The Thought Leader Architect
The terms “thought leader” and “thought leadership” get thrown around so much these days that it was a goal of mine when launching this Let’s Talk Leadership show to have at least one of the first ten sessions devoted to the topic.
And who better as a guest for that purpose than Thought Leader Architect, Mitchell Levy?
Mitchell Levy is the thought leader who creates new thought leaders and makes existing thought leaders better known.
He is the Chief Aha Instigator at the Aha Amplifier and the CEO and Thought Leader Architect at THiNKaha. Mitchell is an Amazon bestselling author with forty five business books, contributor at Entrepreneur Magazine, has provided strategic consulting to over one hundred companies, has advised over five hundred CEOs on critical business issues through the CEO networking groups he’s run, and has been chairman of the board of a NASDAQ-listed company.
Besides which, and importantly for me, he is a good friend of many years and was the publisher for the book Happy About LinkedIn for Recruiting, which I successfully co-authored with Bill Vick, in the days when LinkedIn, compared to now, was just getting underway (as in, 20 million members then, compared to 380 million now).
What makes someone a thought leader?
For a definition of “thought leader”, Mitchell referred me to a page on one of his websites, where he answers this frequently asked question, with words and a neat graphic:
(A thought leader) is an expert in a particular area and is recognized as the expert (the go-to person) in a specific vertical or set of verticals.
As compared someone who is unknown, an evangelist, or an expert.
Mitchell takes seriously his aim to democratize the world of thought leadership. For him, every organization is full of people who are experts in their field. He wants to see companies and individuals benefiting by allowing employees to be thought leaders, allowing them to share content, both inside and outside the company.
“People are paid to do their job, then when they want to talk about it they’re told they can’t. What’s wrong with that?”
So you want to be a thought leader?
We should think of a thought leader as “a recognized expert in their space”, which “space” can be geographical and/or by context.
Thus the key question to ask of someone who aspires to be thought leader is:
“What is it you want to be known for and where is it you want to be known?”
You document that and then you start.
Mitchell provides a 3 step plan of action:
Step 1: Define what you want to achieve as a thought leader and where you want that.
Step 2: Find who plays in that space (i.e. you find your peers in the space and “start doing favors for them.”
Step 3: Allocate time for yourself to do it every day.
Give yourself 6-12 months at this and “then reflect”.
No instant gratification there!
Can Millennials be thought leaders?
We might think thought leaders have to be older people. Not Mitchell. He cites the YouTubers who are well known “because they focused on a certain area and had something we called nerdish”. So yes, Millennials can definitely be thought leaders.
For one thing, they multi-task.
And they don’t have the potential distraction of families and other competing responsibilities.
They are transforming the way work works. For instance, the annual performance review is a serious anachronism for a generation that wants daily feedback!
“The best skill set anyone can have today is international project management.”
“Innovation and experimentation are the best antidotes to FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).”
Mitchell has written social media enabled eBooks he offers for free: “Mitchell Levy on Creating Thought Leaders” and “Meridith Elliott Powell and Mitchell Levy on Instilling Leadership at Every Level” at http://bit.ly/MitchellLevy-AhaAmp01 and http://bit.ly/EngagedLdr-AhaAmp01 respectively, join the conversation about thought leadership best practices on the LinkedIn group http://bit.ly/t-l-b-p, or watch a new thought leader episode each week on http://ThoughtLeaderLife.com.
You can find Mitchell on LinkedIn at this link.