How do you become a thought leader? Better yet, how do you become a thought leader – and monetize it? In this week’s article and video, I'm going to show you how.
The 2 problems I most often see when thought leaders try to launch, grow, our pivot in a new direction, is that they have a strategy that either 1) isn’t fully aligned with their own desires and needs – so it’s draining and unsustainable for the long haul, or 2) what they create isn’t fully meeting the marketplace’s desires and needs, so it falls flat and doesn’t sell well.
The solution is to follow a 7-step approach that I call the “Superstar Business Framework.” It’s an overall brand and business alignment and growth strategy that helps you not only establish yourself as a thought leader, but also to monetize it – and enjoy the process while you do it!
The first step is “Alignment,” which is at the very foundation of building a thought leadership strategy. Alignment is about stepping into your authentic identity as a leader, as a leader who is truly leading rather than simply reflecting the prevailing culture.
When we explore Alignment, we’re asking: Who are you really? What do you love to do? What do you believe in? What is your purpose? These are just a few of the foundational questions for Alignment. Watch the video for a more in depth review of this most important piece – and to hear my own personal story of what happens when you’re OUT of alignment (spoiler alert: it isn’t pretty).
The second part of building a thought leadership strategy is Lifestyle. How do you want your life to be and feel? The danger of NOT doing this second piece is burnout, which is a very common issue for thought leaders. Most thought leaders travel a lot, spend time on stage in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people, and spend a lot of time “on.” If that's not a lifestyle that appeals to you, you need to figure out, what is the lifestyle you DO want?
The questions associated with the second step are: Do you want to be traveling? Do you want to be home? What are some of your requirements for health, emotional and physical well-being? How much money do you need/want to make? How do you wish to spend your days? What is the life your work needs to work around? Answering these questions up front helps ensure that what you build supports your lifestyle, instead of impeding it.
The third thing to consider is your Business Model; your Business Model is the mechanism by which you turn your magic into money. How will you take these gifts of yours, this message, this purpose, these values of yours and turn them into a business that generates revenues? How do you monetize your magic? There are many possible, lucrative, effective business models out there, but you want to choose (or create!) one that’s aligned with parts 1 and 2 — your identity and your lifestyle.
For example, a professional services model, in which you're selling time for money is likely incompatible with a lifestyle where you want a lot of free time, because when you sell time for money, you have to sell more time to make more money. That was the trap that I fell into early in my business, but about 6 years ago, I shifted my business model to doing group programs, and could serve multiple people at the same time, which was a game-changer for me.
Watch the video for more details about business model alignment.
The fourth piece of creating a thought leadership strategy is something I know especially well because I built my entire career on it for many years: Branding. Your branding is your positioning in the marketplace. This is where we ask: Who is my ideal audience? Who do I LOVE working with? Who derives the most value from working with me? What does that market need? What are the market opportunities? Gaps?
This is also where you establish the representation of your brand in the world – your messaging, your pricing, your tagline, your brand colors, and also, what one of my friends and mentors, Mark Levy calls: “Your Big Sexy Idea.”
The fifth puzzle piece of your thought leadership strategy is Marketing, which is the consistent and continuous – and aligned, of course – expression of your brand in the world. The marketing is what you are putting out into the world that shares your big sexy idea. I have a whole playlist on Thought Leader marketing so I won’t belabor it here, but you can check it out here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBsRdrz8MD-DzeYaMPv52Vmc-Des-fhWa
Now, the sixth layer of this framework is where you actually turn all that brand goodwill and all that marketing into money. Step 6 is Monetization, aka: Sales. In my opinion (and after having done it all wrong for years – watch the video to hear about that!) it is essential to have a simple, replicable sales process.
Now, once you have these 6 pieces in place — Identity Alignment, Lifestyle, Business Model, Brand, Marketing, Monetization, and Sales then you've got a look at it and ask: “How do I optimize and scale this thing?”
The seventh and final step is where we address Operations, specifically, the systemization of operations, to reduce wasted time, energy, resources and opportunity, and where we eliminate “friction” from the system. When you tighten up your operations, you can become more profitable, and lay the foundation to do the whole thing all over again with some new launch or initiative.
If you found this valuable, and would like to go deeper, the next step is to objectively examine your own business, and identify the biggest gaps and opportunities.
To that end, I’ve created the Business Alignment Assessment, which I developed to use with my private coaching clients, but you can do it for yourself, for free!
Go to www.SuperstarBusinessAssessment.com to do it. It takes under 30 minutes, and I promise will provide at LEAST one major “aha” or breakthrough that will help you grow your business faster and with more joy and fulfillment.