Thoughts on Thought Leadership

Every time I go to a conference or seminar I am drawn to the speakers and the energy/vibe they have.

I want to be like them. Obviously, they have figured out a thing or two to get to be up on that stage. They are thought leaders. Right?

What is the core of a thought leader? Part genius? Part artist/creator?

I have been reading the first few chapters of How To Fly a Horse, The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery, by Kevin Ashton.

In my Kindle I highlighted these two passages from the book, which speak to the “thought leader”…part creative and part hard work.

“Even without numbers, it is easy to see that creation is not the exclusive domain of rare geniuses with occasional inspiration. Creation surrounds us. Everything we see and feel is a result of it or has been touched by it.”

And, “Creating is taking steps, not making leaps: find a problem, solve it and repeat. Most steps wins.”

That jibes with my experience. Especially, most steps wins!

I know I am not a genius but I am good at looking at something and saying, “why is that not working?”

Then I start to iterate.

I am searching for some original thought or awareness to breakdown the current barrier.

When those things come together, I can feel it in my body! Of course, then I can’t sleep…tingling too much.

From a Forbes article, What is a Thought Leader? I found this definition:

“A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”

As an insuretech company trying to stand out from the masses, I must be a thought leader. It is critical to be considered, that go to person or group.

To be a thought leader of value, I believe it means putting myself out in plain sight. Being willing to lay out my ideas, dreams and goals for all to see. Is it leadership if I don’t?

Of course, that implicitly means I must believe that I am in fact a thought leader. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that many of us struggle with the fear of putting ourselves out there like that.

This week, my podcast interview with Gregory Bailey on Denim Rivet was released. Gregory is the model of a thought leader to me. It is what attracted me to his podcast and to reach out and connect to him.

I have yet to listen to more than 5 minutes of the podcast. After all, what am I doing being interviewed on a podcast? Though I strived to be on Gregory’s show, it still feels like I was the imposter.

Running ViewSpection, I often get rooted into the struggles of the moment, the cash flow pressure and choosing the next (better be correct) strategy.

I find that when I can pull myself out of that spiral of repetitive and ceaseless thoughts, tasks and worry, I can get to a place of calm, centeredness and focus.

When I get to that place I start thinking about the current issue and what is REALLY going on. What is holding us back? What are the possible resources? Who are the possible contacts I can reach out to? What would be a creative way to approach the situation?

Often, from that place, I come to a different approach to the situation. So much so, that it gives me that tingle in my stomach. I know it is the core of a new thought. An original concept.

I become a thought leader when I get above the day to day. Still grinding it out, but at a higher level of thought.

I am excited to step out and grow as a thought leader and to connect with others who are…or have not yet…realized they are a thought leader too.

I am finding that my conversations are deeper and guided by thought leadership. I am looking for nuggets, words and phrases from others, that trigger something inside me.

As I surround myself with more thought leaders, my world is changing.

As I considered if this topic would be my post this week, I got a sign from Chris Cheatham from Risk Genius.

I was watching Chris fold and stack t-shirts on a table at the National Association for Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Summit. Curious, I went over to check it out. They were RiskGenius t-shirts and they were in front of a photo booth. In the booth, you could prop up like Einstein and get a strip of pictures taken in different poses. At the bottom of the photo strip it said…I am a RiskGenius!

What an obvious sign!

Everyone is a creative and everyone has genius thoughts. It is not reserved for Albert E. When each of us is building, obsessing and working hard around a passion, genius happens. For me, that is the core of a thought leader.

~Jim

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