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“Thought leadership” is one of those ubiquitous buzz phrases that dominate content marketing in 2015, right up there with personal brand building.
Your boss is doing it, your boss’s boss is doing it, and you’re doing it. If you’re not, you’re worried that you should be!
As Michael W. McLaughlin wrote in the online sales magazine Rain Today, thought leadership has become the content marketing “arms race” for the 21st Century. With so many voices vying for attention, everyone from C-level executives to Silicon Valley solopreneurs are upping content production in an effort to keep pace with the competition.
The result: the Internet is flooded with would-be thought leaders publishing pieces of dubious quality, diluting value for everyone. Has thought leadership now become a waste of time and resources?Is it Too Late to Save Thought Leadership?
Once upon a time back in 1994, Joel Kurtzman, the then-editor-in-chief of Strategy & Business, coined the term “thought leader” as a means for identifying people within the business marketplace that merited our attention. Thought leaders were the individuals within their respective industries who offered fresh, creative ideas and commentary on industry problems and trends.
Two decades later, much of today’s thought leadership has gone from original to repetitive. It’s not that business leaders, C-level executives, or entrepreneurs don’t have great ideas or valuable insights. The problem is a bit more complex.
Consider this: in just one month, the largest 25 consulting firms in the world published almost 500 new books and articles. Their websites have a total of more than 16,000 pieces of thought leadership on them. Here’s the kicker: this was back in 2010, reports The Source Blog.
Five years later, the pressure to produce content is even stronger. “As more and more people leap on the ‘Thought Leadership bandwagon’, the distinction between ideas that actually lead thought, and those that do not, is getting murkier,” says Melissa Lafksy, the founder of Brick Wall Media and a contributor to Contently.
Lafsky laments that that vast majority of today’s content is so poorly written and argued that thought leadership has become yet another item to check off the content marketing to-do list, rather than an opportunity to elevate discourse and inspire industry innovation.3 Ways to Improve Your Thought Leadership
Don’t write off thought leadership just yet. When done correctly, thought leadership delivers true benefits both for the people writing the content and the people reading it. Rushing out a thought leadership article, however, can result in low-quality content that tarnishes your reputation. Here’s how to avoid common thought leadership pitfalls in your writing:1. Start with an Insightful Idea
Lafsky recommends would-be thought leaders start by reflecting on their industries’ past and then isolate their “special sauce”. What ideas have moved the needle? What common themes are shared by the highest traffic generators on LinkedIn? Why are the top influencers in your industry influential? Focus on finding an authentic way to share your narrative and frame this narrative around an original idea.2. Tell a Compelling Story
Developing an insightful idea is just the first step. The best way to share this idea and connect with other industry leaders is through skillful storytelling. Not a writer? Call in the experts. “Many freelancer writers are highly specialized within different industries and make fantastic ghostwriters,” says John Rampton at Due.com, which publishes a guide to freelancing. “Leveraging freelancers as industry experts is a must for keeping up with the current content publication demands and still delivering the highest quality content.”3. Use the Right Distribution Channels
Now that you’ve dedicated significant time and energy into developing your idea and telling your story, don’t let your thought leadership languish on a rarely-visited company blog. Be it LinkedIn, Twitter, or industry blogs, publish your content to the sites your industry leaders frequent.
“Not only do businesses frequently use the wrong social media platforms to reach their audience, but they spread themselves thin by having a presence on too many social networking sites,” says, Keran Smith co-founder of LYFE Marketing. Find out which social media sites your industry thought leaders frequent and make those the focus.
Bottom line: If you’re going to publish a piece of thought leadership, commit to doing it the right way.
Before you publish anything, ask yourself, “Is this thought leadership or self-promotion?”
If you’re not sure, head back to the drawing board and keep refining your idea. It’s better to publish high-quality work less frequently than push out sub-par pieces that get lost in the digital chaos and ultimately hurt your reputation.
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The company will continue to strengthen its position in Australia, through innovation in its restaurant models, menu, ingredients and service, whilst focusing on a more localised strategy. The rollout of its different new concepts is expected to continue during the forecast period, including "Create Your Taste" within burger fast food, "The Corner" within cafes/pubs and its McDelivery and Drive-Thru services.
Angel investors often say they are looking for entrepreneurs with integrity.
After nearly 25 years of teaching entrepreneurship, I still struggle to explain what that means. But over the last two weeks, I had three successive speakers in my entrepreneurial finance class that have provided me with a concrete example of what investors mean.
This week, I want to share this insight.
David S. Rose, founder of New York Angels, and author of “Angel Investing: Making Money and Having Fun Investing in Startups“, presented last week to my entrepreneurial finance class at Case Western Reserve University about angel investing.
He put up a slide that described what angels are looking for in an entrepreneur. The first word on the list was “integrity.”
As a sometimes angel investor myself, I found myself nodding in agreement as David spoke. But as I looked around the room, it was clear from the faces on the 20-something-year-old kids in the room that the word “integrity” didn’t resonate with them the way it did to me. I remember thinking, I needed to find a way to get the concept across to them.
The next class, John Knific, a 2010 Case graduate and founder of DecisionDesk, a provider of software that helps universities manage student applications and recruitment, came to speak. Bob Sopko, who runs Case’s Blackstone Launchpad , happened to be sitting in, too.
Bob got John to talk about the time he turned down a request from the White House to be present at an event where President Obama was highlighting young entrepreneurs because he had previously committed to committed to play piano for a piece he co-wrote with his father (a music professor) at his dad’s CD release party.
Some people in the room thought that John made the right decision because it put family first. I remember thinking that I agreed that John made the right decision, but not because he put family first.
John Huston, the founder of Ohio Tech Angels and Chairman Emeritus of the Angel Capital Association came to the next session of class and pointed out that being an entrepreneur means doing a lot of things to build your business at the expense of your health and family. I realized then that John Knific’s decision to attend his father’s CD release party didn’t resonate with me because he put his family first. After all, that’s not something that most investors are looking for in an entrepreneur.
My a-ha moment came when John Huston talked about the problem angels have with entrepreneurs who walk away from deals they have made because venture capitalists offer them something better. Having integrity means that an entrepreneur will keep to his promises to investors even if something better comes along later.
If an investor believes in an entrepreneur enough to write a check when a new company’s prospects are very uncertain, he or she wants to know that the entrepreneur will not change, renege, or walk away from the deal because something better comes along.
Investors are looking for signs that entrepreneurs will stick to their word. Turning down the President of the United States because you already made a commitment to someone else, like John Knific did, is a very powerful signal that an entrepreneur can be trusted to do what he or she promised.
That’s what I think angels mean when they say they are looking for an entrepreneur with integrity.
Entrepreneurs Photo via Shutterstock
The single most important aspect of business is the finesse you exhibit when you are with your “audience.” In coaching and teaching communication leadership, I often remind learners to “be kind to your audience.” And I constantly remind them to, “Take responsibility for your audience’s experience of you.”
Who is your audience? Everyone around you.
Whether you are sitting with your boss having a one-on-one conversation, texting a friend or standing on stage in front of 10,000 people: you are with your audience.
Consider how profound your silence is, if you aren’t active on social media. Consider the cost to you, if you are not treating other people like your audience.
Consider the consequences of being aggressive, withholding, menacing, lazy, jealous, insensitive or crazy (even momentarily).
Consider the power of communication with the intention to help your audience move forward — while you are also serving your own goals. Consider how that gives you a competitive advantage in a job interview, the chance for a promotion, and a referral from someone who simply knows you online, or any other situation that matters.
The terrible truth is: every word, every image, every frame of video, and even silence lifts you up or tears you down in the eyes of your audience.
This might include the people who share air with you, like at the office. It includes all your social media posts and comments, all the book reviews or LinkedIn messages you write and all the Periscope, YouTube, and Sooth you create. All the Skype, Facetime, and other relatively real time communication channels you use.
Got it? Anyone who can hear you, see you or otherwise catch your drift: those people are your audience.
The good news is: your greatest, fastest, and most profitable way to reach your desired outcomes is completely in your command. Your success depends on the next word you say, and the word after that, and so on.
Finesse in communication isn’t something tricky like it is in billiards, baking bread or doing anything that demands extraordinary skills.
Communication done with finesse kindly takes into account the ability of your audience to understand and focus on your message, and responsibly putting it in words your audience will embrace because they see evidence you are trustworthy and caring.
With everything you might do to create wealth and profit, consider how simple and productive it is to be kind and responsible.
Those two qualities drive offers and referrals to you, give evidence you are the most attractive candidate or partner, and give people the faith to sign contracts and do deals with you.
Republished by permission. Original here.
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Two Lafayette-area convenience stores were held up by an armed robber Saturday, while a Lafayette fast food restaurant was the target of an attempted armed robbery, all within less than an hour, according to police and sheriff's reports. The robber in the three holdups appeared to match the same description, though the three law enforcement agencies investigating the robberies have not said whether the robberies are related.