Failures and the Journey to Thought Leadership


Those who know me well know that the only sport I really follow is tennis. However, when Sally Jenkins of Washington Post writes one of his brilliant signature pieces analyzing a current snafu in sports, I read it.

She is a great, quick-witted writer.

The article in question, “Breaking the rules in sport is far more complex than the moralists say”, deals with a scandal in the world of chess where a young player is accused of cheating. The alleged cheater, a 19-year-old named Hans Niemann, is accused of using ‘synthetic intelligence’ or ‘artificial performance enhancement’, somehow accessing AI to improve his chess game.

I don’t want to go into the details of the allegations, but I do want to point out what Jenkins writes about what makes a superstar in sports or chess:

But what makes someone great – whether in baseball or chess – is a complex intersection of hard work, intentionality, incentive, opportunity, sensory perception, insight, psychology, economics and countless other factors.

This is nothing less than a brilliant observation. Often when I see something so erudite, my first thought is “Freaking WOW – what a beautiful phrase!” quickly followed by “Shit. I wish I had written that!!!”

As you may know, I write and speak frequently about thought leadership and creating a subject matter expert position in government contracting. I also accompany individuals and companies on the creation of SME positions on the market.

Jenkins’ observations of what it takes to become a standout actor are the same kind of commitment needed to become a subject matter expert and then to step up to the thought leadership level.

Building an SME or thought leader position involves many of the same factors: hard work, focus, more work, intentionality, opportunity, perception, insight, motivation, motivational psychology, more hard work, and “countless other factors. “.

In Sell ​​to government I describe seven basic steps you should follow.

First: Carefully define your niche and be absolutely certain that you have a legitimate right to the intellectual property relating to this niche. Your references must be solid.

Second: Establish your claim developing and sharing information regularly.

Third: Further build demand for incorporating the information in your website, collateral material, your social networking activity, any place online or offline where your niche gathers.

Fourth: Thought leadership requires a immediate point of information, so you need a blog. It should be an immediate selling point so you can quickly comment on any breaking news that impacts your niche and then share it as soon as possible.

Fifth: Connect your activities: articles, speeches and blog posts. Links to all your releases should be tweeted; links to articles must appear on your website and on your LinkedIn profile and groups; have a “Share” button on your blog to make it easier for others to share what you write, your web address, LinkedIn profile URL, and Twitter handle should be on everything you write and do part of your electronic signature.

Sixth: Understand that intellectual real estate is rarely a situation of individual ownership, and there is rarely just one thought leader per niche. You can generate unique content, but the concepts are usually shared. There may be multiple tenants. A true thought leader recognizes the contributions of anyone who adds value. Always cite your sources.

Seventh: make connections and network with people in your niche, online and offline. Visibility is a major key.

Thought leadership is a disciplinewhich requires a lot of things besides knowledge: you have to be seen, known and trusted – and then you have a chance of being recognized by your niche and your peers as a thought leader.

Keep in mind that thought leadership as a position in the market must be continually earned – it’s not a lifetime gig. There is no shortcut.

Not everyone agrees with how I define thought leadership or subject matter expertise. And that’s OK for me.

But as a market, we need legitimate thought leaders and subject matter experts to take us to the next level, to keep moving forward.

The digital world has made content so ubiquitous that it is difficult to position yourself as an SME without appearing to be “cheating”, i.e. coming up with truly original ideas. I’ve seen direct quotes from my work appear in other people’s articles and posts, but I’ve been writing for so long that much of what I’ve written is now part of our collective market knowledge. .

For me, the difference between being an SME and a thought leader is the depth of engagement and then the extent to which you can connect the dots and explain in understandable terms why some dots connect and others don’t. Then the market awards the title of opinion leader.

And by the way, if you’re looking for a direct correlation between Jenkins’ article and this article, it stops at his description of what makes someone great.

Mark Amtower is a consultant, speaker, author, mentor and podcast/radio host. His latest book, Government Marketing 2.0 Best Practices, is exclusively available on Amazon.

Find him on LinkedIn – or contact directly [email protected]


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