How To Become A Thought Leader

by: Doug Michaelides

In Marketing, “thought leadership” is the use of expert content created by subject matter experts to engage prospective clients in a way that clearly demonstrates your value. Promoting expertise is a great way to attract new customers and preserve price levels in the face of commodity suppliers.

If your marketing team has come snooping around looking for people to participate in panel sessions, give presentations or webinars, write whitepapers or deliver podcasts, you should be flattered.  It means, like it or not, they think you’ve got what customers are looking for and they want you to be a spokesperson for your company.  The honorific of “thought leader” doesn’t come without its challenges however – not the least of which is actually figuring out what you’re going to talk about!

OK, so you’ve been tagged as an expert in your discipline.  Now it’s time to prove it!  Prepare some authoritative and opinionated answers to the following questions.  Take a stand and don’t be afraid to be controversial – it’s the debate that makes it interesting!

Some of these questions may not apply and some may seem repetitive but they are intended to help you think about things in different ways.  Pick away at them.  Start with the ones that get your juices flowing!  Before you know it you’ll think you’re a thought leader too!

  1. In your discipline what are the 3 most common issues you’ve seen within companies over your career?
  2. In your discipline, what are the 3 biggest opportunities for businesses today?
  3. What is the best way to gain competitive advantage through your discipline?
  4. Recount a story/experience of a company that did/does “it” right in your discipline.
  5. What three things gets you most excited about what you do?
  6. What are the three tips for success in your discipline that could help any company?
  7. What are the three best ways a business can improve performance in your discipline?
  8. What are the three biggest mistakes that companies make in your discipline?
  9. Describe the biggest screw up you’ve seen in your discipline.  How could it have been avoided?
  10. What’s the biggest obstacle to success when a company is trying to improve in your discipline?
  11. In an organization, who needs to take responsibility for success in your discipline?
  12. What are the roles of line managers vs. leader of the discipline?
  13. What’s the CEO’s role in ensuring success in your discipline?
  14. Why should I hire someone like you in my business?
  15. How should I select a consultant in your discipline?
  16. What is the impact of under investing in your discipline?
  17. What’s the biggest waste of money in your discipline?
  18. What’s the latest trend/fad in your discipline?  Do you buy into it?  Why?
  19. What was the hardest lesson you ever learned in your discipline?
  20. What were the most important things you learned from a mentor in your discipline?
  21. What are the characteristics you look for when hiring someone in your discipline?
  22. Give some career advice to someone just starting out in your discipline.
  23. What’s the best way to learn your discipline?
  24. When selecting a supplier, what are the three things I should look for related to your discipline?
  25. How has your discipline changed in the last ten years?
  26. What do you forecast for the next decade in your discipline?
  27. What are the biggest conflicts within a typical organization related to your discipline?  How can they be avoided or managed?
  28. What are the three things a start up needs to worry about in your discipline?
  29. What kind of challenges does a growing company typically face in your discipline?
  30. If acquiring a company what should I look for related to your discipline?
  31. If buying a product, what should I factor into my decision related to your discipline?
  32. What are the first signs of trouble in my company that I should watch for in your discipline?
  33. What are the best metrics to track in order to be sure I’m doing things right in your discipline?
  34. How could government or regulation help/hinder progress in your discipline?
  35. If you’re so smart, why aren’t you a millionaire? (just kidding)
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