I recently attended Andrea J. Lee’s Wealthy Thought Leader event via simulcast. (I did learn I need to be at an event live to really get the most out of any program I invest in… but the simulcast was wonderful so far! I say so far because I missed some of it and am still playing catch-up!)
The topic of ‘thought leader’ is a very timely one because one of my good friends and coaches, Shawn Driscoll, has been asking me to make a choice: do I focus on being a thought leader or do I focus on building my brand?
I guess I should back it up a bit.
A few weeks ago, I held a contest to give someone a sponsorship to my Sponsorship Made Simple Academy. I got a lot of great entries. However, something was bugging me. A couple of the entries almost point blank said they’d be using the skills they learned from me to teach others how to do the same thing or use the skills to get clients to pay them to get sponsorships on their behalf. In effect, they wanted to take my course in order to compete with me.
Then just last week, another person who had hired me to work on a project a while ago told me she had hired a VA to complete the work this time around, since I had laid out the plan wonderfully last time. Plus this former client also had all the stuff I had written previously for them so it would be easy to replicate.
Part of my heart was crying, “Foul!” The other was saying, “Woohoo! I’m an innovator! Not one of those replicators!”
And if the timing couldn’t be more perfect, Sandy Martini, another friend and a client in the Sponsorship Made Simple Academy, wrote on her blog about ‘The Fine Line Between Inspiration and Imitation’ and how someone stole her content from a program (my words, not hers) and developed a very similar program with a very similar name.
But still, why was I feeling so torn, so protective about my content? After all, I know that there really isn’t anything totally original out there anymore. There are others out there teaching about publicity, public relations, creative marketing and sponsorship. And I learned it from somewhere myself, tweaked it and made it something totally unique and systems-based (just my style). Where was my discomfort coming from?
Partly it was anger. I worked my ‘tail’ off to learn and test and tweak these strategies over decades. And someone is taking them and learning it in a couple of months, selling it. Not fair! (If you haven’t noticed, fairness and justice are my BIG motivators so of course this would push a few of my buttons!)
Partly fear. Fear I would be losing out to someone else for the same $$. I mean, if you love what I am doing so much, refer people to me; I pay a very nice commission!
And the other thing is that I want to be known for what I do. Me. Not someone else. Me! Yes, a bit of vanity in the mix too.
So how does this all relate to being a thought leader and Shawn’s push for me to decide what I want?
Let’s define thought leader first. Here are a couple of definitions I like:
- A thought leader is a futurist or person who is recognized for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights
- A brand whose outstanding presence in the market can be attributed to its influential ideas; the brand may not necessary lead in market share.
Obviously the key to both these definitions is innovative/influential ideas. I think I have that down. And that’s part of what I offer in the marketplace. Like I said, I like to innovate, not replicate.
But it’s the part about not being the lead in market share that gives me angst.
I want both. Don’t thought leaders deserve both? Or is it enough to have a great idea and share it so it becomes mainstream?
What do you think? Do I have to make a choice? Is there another way of seeing this so I can get more satisfaction?