Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Ariana Huffinton (HuffPost), Elon Musk (Tesla)
By Jon Michail
Being an Entrepreneur or a Thought Leader requires many of the same personality traits, yet for one to succeed at being both requires a new level of awareness.
Confidence, determination, ability, flair, tenacity, and of course an absolute unswerving dedication to turn an ephemeral vision into a concrete reality (even in the face of the most indomitable naysayers), are all characteristics that can be found in successful Entrepreneurs and Thought Leaders alike.
So where do they diverge?
Where an Entrepreneur may, of necessity, be focused inwards on their work, a Thought Leader will look outwards for solutions. An entrepreneur may hoard their initial idea and guard it with the utmost secrecy. A Thought Leader will consult, confer and share their vision. An entrepreneur may have difficulty recognising that others can help implement their idea. A Thought Leader relies on other people to the extent that, without them, the Thought Leader ceases to exist. The Entrepreneur is passionate about their own business, the Thought Leader generously offers their time and expertise to help others.
If you are an Entrepreneur and want to step into the role of Thought Leader, there are a few things you can do to make the transition that much easier.
1. Remember what the goal is: If your number one goal is to attract more clients and generate sales then that’s the KPI. Some people get hung up on the fame, the glory and the attention. Although getting noticed is important the bottom line is to grow your sales.
2. Be credible. You’ll be found out soon enough if you don’t have factual evidence and examples to back up your ideas. Your reputation is everything!
3. You have something to say – so say it. A good platform for sharing your opinion is a blog. Create one and share the hell out of it with the right niche audience. Yes, don’t bother converting the unconverted, you haven’t the time, energy or resources.
4. Speak at the right events, presentations, conferences. At first, whenever and wherever you can to gain experience and confidence. Over time be selective – know your niche audience and grow it. Film it and publish it online. Get out there and make sure your voice is heard. (And remember the value of a pithy one liner!)
5. Make meaningful connections. It’s easier than ever to network with the people who you admire – sometimes all it takes is a friendly tweet. Successful networking is a collaborative two-way street. If you get an opportunity to guest on someone’s blog, make sure you return the favour.
6. Create your personal brand alongside your corporate brand. After all, as well as your product, you are also selling YOU. Donald Trump’s hair only works for Donald Trump. Investing in an image overhaul is a crucial part of your branding strategy when relevant.
Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, smart work, and learning from failure.”
As an Entrepreneur, you may already be accustomed to working through failure time and time again. But as a Thought Leader, your failures will be that much bigger because everyone will know. You may find that you will be subjected to much harsher criticism and as a result a tarnished reputation.
Making the leap to become an Entrepreneur and Thought Leader takes preparation, smart work, and generosity of spirit. Are you up for the challenge?
I’d love to know your experiences.
Jon Michail and his team at Image Group International partner with their clients to achieve breakthrough results with contrarian and disruptive ways to grow and monetise their personal and business brands. A veteran coach with a Who’s Who clientele, Jon is the CEO and Founder of Image Group International, an Australian-based corporate and personal brand image advisory and coaching organisation that conducts transformational seminars, workshops and one-on-one coaching in over four continents. He is recognised as Australasia’s No. 1 Image Coach.