Every Book On Thought Leadership Compared (I Read Them All)

I had just started my new job at Sweet Fish who helps B2B brands launch and use podcasts to reach their ideal buyers when it became more and more apparent that I didn’t know nearly as much about B2B marketing as I thought.

Sure, they used the same marketing channels, but the way they used them was very different. Multiple strategies like ABM, Category Creation, Sales Enablement, Demand Gen, and Thought Leadership were fairly new to me. So, I set out to master them. Starting with Thought Leadership.

In 2020, I purchased and read (or listened) to every book I could find on the topic and, while there are a few out of print books I’ve missed, I managed to read them all! I also interviewed a few of the authors themselves on the B2B Growth show.

I documented all of my best insights with a few of my own ideas in this massive post on how to become a thought leader.

I’m also sharing some of the best things I learned from each of the books below.

What are the best books on how to be a thought leader? The most useful books that will help you become a thought leader include Authority Marketing by Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton for its practical overview of the topic, The Business of Expertise by David Baker for its ideas on positioning, and Thought Leadership by Laurie Young for its thorough breakdown of the subject of Thought Leadership.

Here’s the full list of books I read with links to the summary:

Book (20)Audience RatingNotes
Authority Marketing (Witty)Executives4Best quick overview on the subject of becoming a thought leader.
Stand Out (Clark)Executives3Few good ideas on developing new contributions to a field
The Business of Expertise (Baker)Agency Owners4Best book for agency owners by far! Extremely practical
Key Person of Influence (Priestly)Soloprenuers2Nothing new compared to others. Interesting ideas on approaching partnerships.
Known (Shaefer)General2Overgeneralized with few practical steps to take.
Thought Leaders (Kurtzman)Executives1More about cutting edge business ideas from the 90s than about the topic of thought leadership.
The Art of Original Thinking (Phillips)General2Philosophical breakdown of thought leadership. Was super helpful to me.
Think, Write, Grow (Butler)General3Most useful part was in the “thinking” part of the book. The other two parts were pretty short and trite.
The Thought Leader Practice (Church)Solopreneurs4Probably a dozen good ideas in this book. I use a few regularly now.
The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth (Brogan)Solopreneurs1All fluff. No substance despite being the most recognized author on this list.
Rise of the Youpreneur (Ducker)Solopreneurs1Sells the idea of being a thought leader more than guides on how to be one. Unless you buy his course that is…
Thought Leadership Launch (Winter)Solopreneurs3Very general without many specifics. Pushes authorship hard.
Thought Leader Formula (Farmanfamian)Solopreneurs3Lots of general advice with some good ideas on personal branding.
#ThoughtLeadership Tweet (Badings)Executives2Short book of tweet sized thoughts on thought leadership with a few gold nuggets.
The Thoughtful Leader (Klein)Solopreneurs2General but it was a good way to frame thought leadership.
Thought Leadership (Young)Academic5By far the most thorough and well researched book on thought leadership.
Global PR Revolution (Behar)Executives2A long pitch for his PR agency.
Authority Executives1Short book with 15 authors and little substance
Ready To Be a Thought Leader? (Brosseau) Executives2If you’re an expert already, this is your next step.
The Thought Leadership Manual (Prizeman)Executives, Marketers3One of the few books written for marketers.

Rating Scale: 1 = meh, 2 = somewhat useful, 3 = good, 4 = darn good!, 5 = love

Ready to dive deeper? Let’s dig into some of the best nuggets from each of the authors.

Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant

Authors: Adam Witty & Rusty Shelton
Buy It on Amazon

If you want a good primer on the topic of thought leadership, look no further. You can simply replace the term “Authority Marketing” with “Thought Leadership” and you have your book.

Adam and Rusty do a fantastic job covering all the major areas that thought leadership touches from idea generation, branding, lead generation, content marketing, pr, speaking, events, and referral marketing.

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They then push heavily on the idea of authorship and I think they are right about this topic. It’s hard to become a thought leader (though not impossible) without publishing a book on the topic. It is the hallmark of any great thought leader.

I did an interview with Adam about the book on the B2B Growth podcast, so if you want to get a sample of the book, look no farther:

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What I didn’t like about the book is also why it’s one of my top recommended books on the topic. It’s just a tease of the information. It doesn’t go into depth about how to do it or where to get started. It gives you a survey of the land without a detailed roadmap of how to navigate it.

That’s okay if you just need an overview, but my favorite books tend to be more prescriptive. Still, I know most people don’t like to dive into the weeds like I do.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Authority Marketing isn’t about ego or attention—it’s about affinity, which equals trust, and it turns you and your business into a magnet for potential clients.”

“Success today means thinking more like the media than a marketer. Media Outlets are focused on attention.”

“That’s why writing a book is a foundational element of building authority—a force-multiplier. It enables you to establish instant respect and credibility with whomever you meet and, if a person takes the time to read the book, you also have a chance to make a lasting impact”

Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It

Author: Dorie Clark
Buy It on Amazon

After Authority Marketing, it seemed like Dorie Clark’s book, Stand Out, was the next most popular book I began to see on all the “top thought leadership” book lists. It’s similar in that it covers a lot of the same material just as well as Adam and Rusty, but spends a bit more time focusing on how to produce original ideas. Below are a few of the frameworks for building breakthrough ideas that I found helpful:

  • Becoming a thought leader by niching down: If you go down far enough into a niche specialty, you can find ideas that nobody else was interested in enough to cover (or at least cover as much as you will).
  • Providing new research: do what academics do and use the scientific method to uncover unknowns, get answers to hard questions, or provide more evidence to back everybodies current assumptions.
  • Combining Ideas: If you have a strong background in two different fields, you can borrow ideas from one and apply them to the other to achieve breakthrough results.
  • Creating a Framework: This one is my personal favorite, but it is the process of simplifying what’s already available. It can be adding a new way to organize information, making it easier for practitioners to do their work, breaking down a complex process into a simpler recipe for success.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“In today’s competitive economy, it’s not enough to simply do your job well. Developing a reputation as an expert in your field attracts people who want to hire you, do business with you and your company, and spread your ideas. It’s the ultimate form of career insurance.”

“Most recognized experts achieved success not because of some special genius, but because they learned how to put disparate elements together and present ideas in a new and meaningful way.”

“Sometimes you have to experiment with a lot of ideas and see which one sticks. If you’re unsure, let the market decide.”

The Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact + Wealth

Author: David C. Baker
Buy It on Amazon

David Bakers book is another one of my top three books for a few reasons. He practices what he preaches in picking a solid position to dominate as the thought leader and David picked the position of marketing agency leaders.

So, if you run an agency of some kind or are a solo consultant/freelancer, this book is for you.

This book is extremely well written without any extra words or fluff. He spends time talking about his background as an agency owner, what he did to stand out from others, and then codifies it for you to follow in his footsteps.

I also had the privilege of interviewing David on the B2B Growth podcast last year. Check it out if you want to get a good idea for the book and dive deeper into the topic of positioning yourself as a thought leader.

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I’ve met multiple agency owners that have been impacted by this book so if you’re in that camp, get this one today.

Key Person of Influence: The Five-Step Method to Become One of the Most Highly Valued and Highly Paid People in Your Industry

Author: Daniel Priestly
Buy It on Amazon

This book was recommended to me from a connection on LinkedIn (are we connected yet?). What Daniel calls a “Key Person of Influence” isn’t exactly like a thought leader, but there are enough similariest that I am including the books on the list.

Daniel goes on to share his own story on becoming a key person of influence and elaborates on the key areas you need to master in order to do the same. His critical area’s to becoming a key person of influence are:

  • Defining your purpose
  • Having something to say
  • Generating material
  • Getting Famous on the Internet
  • Collaborating with the Right People

He spends the most time on collaborating with other key persons of influence and I get the feeling that he emphasizes it because of how key relationships played out in his own career.

Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age

Author: Mark W. Schaefer
Buy It on Amazon

When I announced that I was trying to read every book on thought leadership, Known was recommended a few times. The book doesn’t touch on many of the key aspects of thought leadership, but it does cover the one major piece that is the most difficult part: being known.

Becoming known or growing your influence is a key component of thought leadership. Without it, you simply have good ideas that nobody has heard of or don’t take seriously if they have.

There are some great ideas in this book about personal branding and it is packed with stories from others that have made taken intentional steps to go from unknown to known.

While it does discuss steps to becoming known, I found them to be a bit too broad to be practical. There weren’t quite enough details for me to feel like I could see where I could take steps on the journey.

Thought Leaders: Insights on the Future of Business

Author: Joel Kurtzman
Buy It on Amazon

Okay, so this book isn’t a book about thought leadership in the same way the others are, but it’s an important book none the less.

Joel Kurtzman is the man who coined the term “thought leader” with a article and then this book.

While most of the book is about highlighting a dozen exceptional business thinkers of the day (1990’s), it does leave some great nuggets on the topic of thought leadership in the introduction of the book that I’ll drop as some quotes below to save you from buying the book.

“More than ever, business is a game of ideas in which companies and individuals compete on the strength of what they know.

This fact is reflected in the rise of business schools, the increased number of MBA’s, and the latest professional perk—the executive bookshelf. I have observed this change myself as I have wandered through hallways and offices of some of the world’s greatest companies. When I began my career, it was rare to see books in the offices of corporate leaders. Shelves were stuffed with reports, coffee tables were piled with printouts, and desks were covered with papers.

Although papers still make their home on desktops (even with the advent of computers), the shelves are now filled with books, and the coffee tables sport copies of the Harvard Business Review, Strategy & Business, and the Sloan Management Review. Executives are buying books, attending conferences, reading specialized periodicals, and surfing the internet to discover new insights before the competition does.

What I get out of this short introduction is that the business of ideas is still relatively young. This was written in the 90’s and business as a discipline only started picking up steam when people like Peter Drucker and Michael Porter as well as organizations like the Boston Consulting Group began introducing new ways of doing business over the last 75 years.

The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader

Author: Jan Phillips
Buy It on Amazon

This book was different than the rest in that it took a more philosophical approach to thought leadership. Jan wrestles with the internal struggles, dealing with assumptions, and distilling truths in order to bring new original thinking into the world.

To demonstrate original thinking and moving past our biases, examples are given throughout the book. She offers so many examples, in fact, that the book almost feels like a social commentary. It also feels like She’s trying to spiritualize ideas and concepts that are pretty straight forward.

Politics are also mentioned often.

I didn’t underline much from this book, but there were a few quotes worth pulling out.

We need to know how to resolve our own conflicts, how to manage our thoughts, how to dissolve the obstacles to our creativity. And as leaders, we need to know how to guide people through he portals of new possibilities—new ways of thinking, speaking, being.”

In a world as divided as ours, there is a great opening for voices that can unify, words that can weave our tattered pieces back into their original oneness. It is a creative endeavor that involves as much spirit as thought and calls for a most illuminated imagination, which exists right now in the center of each of us.

If you like the flavor from the two quotes above, you will like the whole book.

Think, Write, Grow: How to Become a Thought Leader and Build Your Business by Creating Exceptional Articles, Blogs, Speeches, Books and More

Author: Grant Butler
Buy It on Amazon

When you start reading multiple books on the exact same topic you start to see how each author’s background plays into how the content is shaped. In this book, Grant Butler’s background in journalism shines through. Thus, the book is well written and great stories are woven through the book to illustrate the concepts.

While the book is titled “Think, Write, Grow” its best contribution is in the “thinking” section. The write and grow (marketing) sections offer fairly standard advice (write short concise sentences, tell stories, speak in the active voice, etc). It could be that I’ve also read a dozen books on writing already and hundreds of books on marketing though, so take that with a grain of salt.

One of my favorite sections of the book was this list of the common characteristics of thought leader:

  • Intelligent: Thought leaders usually have a strong mental capacity for capturing, storing, and analyzing a lot of information in order to come up with breakthrough ideas.
  • Novel: They see the world differently and have a knack to look where nobody else is looking or try something unconventional.
  • Credible: There’s a lot of intelligent and novel thinkers out there that nobody believed until long after they died. Thought leaders are typically believable in their own lifetime and establish trust early.
  • Passionate: They are excited about their fields of expertise. They are so enthusiastic that their passion overflows onto others and this is often what wins them, followers.
  • Honest: Thought leaders try to remain objective. This is where the author’s journalism lens kicks in and, personally, I don’t think true objectivity is even possible. I do think the best thought leaders are fair to both sides of an argument.
  • Extroverted: All great thought leaders have to get their ideas out through writing, speaking, and as commentators in front of people. They have to be comfortable getting their ideas in front of others.
  • Constructive: They may often be critical but thought leaders usually are aiming to make the world a better place. Their chief aim is to fix problems and/or bring a better future forward.
  • Courageous: They have to get used to speaking out and continually receiving pushback on their ideas from others. It takes a lot of courage to continually get the wind knocked out of you and then enthusiastically march on with your ideas.
  • Solitary: Thought leaders often work alone or in small groups because of the heavy research and quiet analysis required to think through all the information.
  • Exposed: Thought leaders have to be vulnerable. Their ideas, and thus their reputation, have to be put out there for the world to judge repeatedly.

Also, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Thought leadership is the process of putting forward ideas to solve problems and realize opportunities”

“One of the most difficult aspects of developing thought leadership material is deciding how much intellectual property (IP) to release. The tension is that you need to give away enough for an audience to find it valuable, but not so much that it’s a poor commercial proposition. This is a line you will need to explore, and it will depend on factors such as whether you are charging for your thought leadership… If you don’t give away enough IP, your material will fail to qualify as thougth leadership.”

The Thought Leader Practice

Authors: Matt Church, Peter Cook, & Scott Stein
Buy It on Amazon

There are some truly great ideas on thought leadership in this book even though it’s geared for solopreneur thought leaders. The problem with books that showcase what a business in thought leadership looks like is that they try to cover too much ground in one book stretching the content too thin.

The best idea I took away from this book is how to “package” an idea, or what the author calls an “IP snapshot”. While I have my own thinking about this, I’ll unpack the author’s version below.

You can find this diagram, and others like it, in Matt’s first book by clicking here.

I love this model because it forces you to flesh out an idea and think through a variety of ways to communicate it. This is invaluable to aspiring thought leaders who need to get their idea seen and, more importantly, understood.

Here’s a quick explanation of each section:

  • Model: This is a visual representation of the idea. It could be a photo, diagram, or some other kind of graphic.
  • Metaphor: This is the verbal metaphor that helps people understand the idea by comparing it to something else.
  • Statement: This is a short description of the idea.
  • Explanation: The long description of the idea.
  • Study/Statistics: The evidence you have to support the idea.
  • Story: A use case, personal story, or some other narrative that illustrates why the idea is important to others.

Here’s a few quotes I found helpful from the book:

“Rather than asking ‘What does a specific market need?’ you ask, ‘How does what I know serve a specific market?'”

“Imagine you are doing a PhD on your topic — that’s the sort of literature review you want to do. You need to be on top of all the significant books and journal articles in your area, and read these as a thought leader. Have two pads beside you as you read; keep one list of points that you can add to, and one of points that you disagree with. You want to be adding to the field, not just regurgitating it.”

“We suggest that thought leaders dedicate themselves to crafting a compelling message, shaping their ideas so that people see the quality of thought behind their work.”

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators

Author: Chris Brogan
Buy It on Amazon

This was the most disappointing book of the stack. The author was the most recognizable in the list but his book was a cheap “me too” book that has glowing reviews around the time it came out in 2015 but hasn’t been picked up since then.

The content felt like a strange mashup of the Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Work Week, Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It!, and Seth Godin’s Tribes book without adding anything new. It certainly doesn’t cover many ideas about thought leadership even though it often sits on a lot of “top thought leader” book lists.

I was going to drop some quotes here, but after rereading them… they just weren’t good enough.

Skip this book.

Rise of the Youpreneur: The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Leader in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business

Author: Chris Ducker
Buy It on Amazon

This is another book on a ton of “top thought leader” book lists that gives little insight on how to be a thought leader and is more of a pitch on building a solopreneur business around thought leadership.

Most books like this emphasize the same points that sound like:

  • Stand out by being “different”
  • But just be “yourself”
  • Create valuable content
  • Post on social media
  • Build a marketing funnel
  • Monetize your expertise

If that list above makes your eyes roll, skip this book and read Jay Baer’s book, Youtility, and apply the principles to your personal brand instead.

Thought Leadership Launch: 7 Ways to Make 7 Figures with Your Million Dollar Message

Author: Aurora Winter
Buy It on Amazon

Quite a few books about thought leadership are written people who had a breakthrough with an idea or two and then wrote a book on how to be a thought leader so they can upsell you are their training program.

This is one of those books.

Still, Aurora pulled together a few unique ideas in this book that are worth sharing here.

She mentions how one pitch she gave on a television show changed the game for her as it went viral and opened a ton of doors for her. She doesn’t go into detail about what this means for you, so here’s my thoughts on what this means: share ideas more often. You never know which idea will be the hit. Once you find an idea resonates, then you can double down on it.

She mentions repeatedly the value of writing a book which is a huge trend I’m finding across all of these thought leadership books.

Lastly, she had a very interesting trend she noticed and is utilizing herself we’ll call talk-to-write-to-talk. You record a lot of podcast interviews, then send them to a professional writer to turn into a book, and then have a professional speaker turn into an audio book.

“Thought leader Arianna Huffington candidly revealed that her secret to writing 15 books in just a few years was to capture her thoughts on audio, and then delegate the rest.”

This way you can focus just on communicating the idea in the easiest format and outsource the rest to get your idea out into the marketplace in multiple formats.

I’ve certainly seen Gary Vaynerchuk doing this as well.

The Thought Leader Formula: Strategically Leverage Your Expertise to Drive Business & Career Goals

Author: Robin Farmanfarmaian
Buy It on Amazon

This is a 268-page book that could have been a 100-page book. It’s a lot of overview of goal setting, thought leader business model, branding, content marketing, networking, etc.

This one does have some fun points though, so here’s a few takaway’s:

  • You can gain credibility as a thought leader through association. Leverage your current employer, interview other thought leaders, join groups your audience respects.
  • You should consider personal style and dress as part of your personal brand. Don’t dress to impress as much as you should dress to communicate how you want to be known. It also helps if you have a signature look or item you always have (think of Seth Godin’s yellow glasses)
  • Having a few catchphrases can make you more memorable and help your message sink in deeper.
  • Oh, and you should write a book…

#ThoughtLeadership Tweet Book01: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign

Authors: Craige Badings & Liz Alexander
Buy It on Amazon

When I first saw this book I totally judged it by its cover. I thought there would be nothing useful in it but I bought and read it anyway.

Maybe it’s because my expectations were set so low, but I actually enjoyed this book. It had a few small nuggets in it that were useful and it was a fast read.

You can see why below:

The book is a bunch of small tweet-sized thoughts categorized into a few themes with an introduction to each theme.

I talked in depth with Craig on the B2B Growth show about this book and went into depth on personal vs. organizational thought leadership. You can listen below.

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Here’s what I learned.

  • It is possible to build a level of thought leadership through content curation (which the book demonstrates itself). I would add personally that you better add your own two cents into what you are curating and that it’s rare to become a great thought leader simply through curation.
  • You can expand a companies thought leadership by bringing all (or some) of the employees into the process. We talk about this at length in the interview above.
  • One great way to find a niche to become known for as a thought leader is to pick a specific problem in the industry to focus on for a long time first.

The book also has some great questions that are great to guide your thinking about your own thought leadership.

  • What keeps your clients or prospects awake at night? Why? How can you use this to inform your thought leadership point of view?
  • What can you share with your target audience that they don’t already know and would not have thought of themselves?
  • Are you examining your won thinking an how you are processing your information internally to arrive at a thought leadership position?
  • What does your industry or sector treat as sacred (it could be an assumption, process, or goal)? Now imagine the opposite is true?
  • What ways can you restate a client challenge in order to come up with new, insightful thought leadership solutions?
  • Why don’t you take a client challenge to a part of your organization whose opinions have never been sought before, to gain fresh insights?
  • What three trends will impact your clients over the next three years, and can your thought leadership address these?
  • Do you have current content or intellectual property that could be adapted with some extra rigor into a thought leadership point of view?
  • Do you have sector experts whose insights could be backed by robust research and then packaged and leveraged as your thought leadership?

While there were a lot of bad books in the mix, this was not one of them.

The Thoughtful Leader: How to use your head and your heart to inspire others

Author: Mindy Gibbins-Klein
Buy It on Amazon

This is a short 3-4 hour listen as a audiobook I found in Scribd. With one main point that you can see in the title.

Be thoughtful.

The best thought leaders strike a great balance between experience/expertise and humility/servanthood. The more you can add real value to peoples lives by giving way more than you take, the farther you will get as a thought leader.

People can tell when you only give to get.

Mindy does a good job of showing this level of authenticity in her book. If you want to go deeper, it’s worth downloading and listening to over a weekend.

Thought Leadership: Prompting businesses to think and learn

Author: Laurie Young
Buy It on Amazon

I was amazed, but this is the only in-depth book on the topic of thought leadership currently on the planet.

I underlined a ton from it, so it’s hard to know what takeaways to share, so the best I can do is highlight what I got out of the book and you will have to get a copy yourself to dig in.

Word of Caution: While this book is very well written, it is dense and will take a while to read through.

Here’s what I loved about the book:

  • It has high-quality case studies from a ton of different companies.
  • It gives a thorough explanation of what thought leadership is.
  • It defends the concept of thought leaders as a substantive subject that is unique among so many business concepts.
  • It gives the fullest history on the subject that I’ve ever seen.
  • It gives a fully documented outline of types of thought leadership with examples.
  • It walks through dissemination strategies
  • It covers strategic planning and execution strategies

If you are seriously considering making thought leadership a key part of your career or companies marketing strategy, you need to read this book.

The author goes on to advocate for more academic research for the topic, so stay tuned as I hunt for more scholarly work and post my findings back on this blog.

The Global PR Revolution: How Thought Leaders Succeed in the Transformed World of PR

Author: Maxim Behar
Buy It on Amazon

I don’t know what to say about this book. It came out a little over a year from when I read it, it has glowing reviews, and it taught me nothing new.

It felt like reading the New Rules of Marketing and PR with an exclamation point and as if everybody had been living under a rock the last 7 years.

Keep in mind that I’ve read a ton of marketing books, so what seems obvious to me will not be too many others.

Still, I don’t recommend this book.

Authority: Strategic Concepts from 15 International Thought Leaders to Create Influence, Credibility and a Competitive Edge for You and Your Business

Authors: John North, Christine Robinson, Matt Smith, Adam Johnson , Larry Morrison, Cathy Fyock, Allan McLennan, Denise Gabel, Jason Van Camp, Nathan Johnson, Jenn Foster, Mark Leonard, Melanie Johnson (Author), Everett O’Keefe, George Smolinski.
Buy It on Amazon

Look. If you want to learn about thought leadership or how to become a thought leader, pick one of the books above.

This is not the book for you.

This is a collective pitch book that I only purchased because I was reading all the books published on the topic (so you don’t have to 😁 ).

Ready to Be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success

Author: Denise Brosseau
Buy It on Amazon

This book is different from the others in that it assumes you are already an expert or celebrity of some kind. It helps you assess your strong points and what needs to happen to reposition you as a thought leader.

It’s not a bad thing to be focus a book an already somewhat elite few. It didn’t help me a ton though.

Where this book shines is the time it spends helping you narrow down the topic you want to become a thought leader in. Denise shows you how to narrow down the topic by finding overlap between three major areas of your life: your credentials, your expertise, and what topics you are committed to.

Below is a list of great questions anybody can ask themselves to help them generate a good starting point for all three areas. I found these questions very eye-opening.

Credential Questions

  • What are some of your recent job titles?
  • What industries have you worked in?
  • Have you ever been named in a top 10 or top 100 list? For what?
  • Do you have an advanced degree? What in?
  • Have you received any certifications? What in?
  • Have you filed for any patents? In what area(s)?
  • Have you ever started a company or run a division? What was it?
  • Have you served on a board or an advisory board?

Expertise Questions

  • When people say you’re always in the know about something, what is that?
  • What subjects have you written about for publication?
  • If you were asked to write an article about something what would it be?
  • If you asked ten people to complete this sentence, “She/he is teh best person I know at …” what would they say?
  • What are you most proud to have achieved?
  • Have you been invited to speak or write about any topics recently?
  • What are your core professional skills sets? Personal attributes?
  • What do you know that others don’t really know much about?
  • Where are you considered a leader?
  • Have you developed a new way fo doing things? In what area?

Commitment Questions

  • What do you read about when you have a few spare moments?
  • What do you think needs to be fixed or improved in the world?
  • Complete these sentences:
    • Nothing makes me happier than working on …
    • What I really care about is …
    • Nothing gets me out of bed faster than my commitment to …
    • What gives me goosebumps is imagining …
    • I have unique ideas about …

Spending time thinking through all of these questions, putting them down on paper, and then looking at them outside your head is sure to yield some great insights about overlapping areas that you can focus on for your thought leadership.

The book goes more in depth on each of these and this is just one small section of the book. If you find you have some big accomplishments, credentials, and experience under your belt this would be a good book for you.

The Thought Leadership Manual: How to Grab Your Clients’ Attention With Powerful Ideas

Author: Tim Prizeman
Buy It on Amazon

This is one of the few books on thought leadership that are more focused on organizational thought leadership than personal thought leadership, so it’s aimed at in-house marketers and PR professionals who want to position their company as a thought leader.

While the book has some vague generalities and only one key approach to thought leadership, I did find quite a bit of the book helpful, and the one approach is well documented.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how companies can become thought leaders according to Prizeman:

  1. Identify your business challenge. Why does your business need to pursue thought leadership as a major marketing strategy?
  2. Identify the area of focus for your campaign.
  3. Create the business case and political buy-in.
  4. Background research and knowledge building.
  5. Create your hypothesis.
  6. Substantiate your hypothesis, its impact and the consequences of your breakthrough insights.
  7. Create attention-grabbing content.
  8. A strong and ongoing marketing and sales campaign to generate leads and create clients.
  9. Review, refine, repeat.

The book then goes through and outlines the tasks for each of the components above.

It’s helpful in that this is a tried a true approach to thought leadership and is likely where most organizations can start if they want to be reasonably sure of success.

Doing original research related to one of your industry’s major problems/questions is only ONE way of creating thought leadership for a company, There are many that I will outline in a future blog post. Subscribe to stay tuned for when that comes out.

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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