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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  March 22, 2016

Three-Step Process to Develop Your Thought Leadership

You can share other people’s ideas and still be a thought leader.

I don’t know James Clear—but I like him. Here’s why: this handy test that helps root out what a lot of us thought leaders do: misinterpret patterns.

Hey, guilty as charged. And I’m hired to see and interpret patterns all the time. James’ blog post, “Upgrade Your Brain: How to Spot a Common Mental Error That Leads to Misguided Thinking,” offers a simple explanation for why we emphasize one outcome and ignore others all the time: illusory correlation.

But let’s set aside my newfound fandom and the problem James addresses and look at his post from a thought leadership perspective. He uses a three-step process to capture attention, explain, and provide a solution:

1. Show that the issue is common. James gives a common example that tells us 1) this happens a lot and 2) we’re not stupid if we do it. His approach that “this is common, and you’re not an idiot” allows us to let down our guard and learn something new.


Related: Relevance Is a Comparison


2. Explain why it happens. Here’s what James says about illusory correlation: “We tend to overestimate the importance of events we can easily recall and underestimate the importance of events we have trouble recalling. The easier it is to remember, the more likely we are to create a strong relationship between two things that are weakly related or not related at all.” He uses just two sentences and simple language. We get it.

3. Share a handy tool. Then James gives us an easy way to test our assumptions. The test is not his, and that’s OK. He gives credit and a link back to the book where he got it. Lesson: you can share other people’s ideas and still be a thought leader.

There are probably many reasons why almost 250,000 people subscribe to James’ newsletter. One thing is for sure, though, providing handy information like what he included in his blog post keeps folks coming back for more. You can use this three-step process, too, to build readership and up your content marketing game.


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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.