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Being A Thought Leader Only Requires These Two Things

It isn’t as complicated as you might think.

If you’re reading the same social posts I am and like to surround yourself with thought-leaders and changemakers like I do, you’ll likely agree that thought-leadership is on the rise, and that content creation is mandatory to cultivate an audience. We have to stand out, and we have to be original.

But the world we live in is noisy right? And getting increasingly more so every day.

At a conference I spoke at in Beverly Hills in 2016, Guruduth Banavar, Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Cognitive Computing for IBM—also leading the cognitive systems for Watson—said that 90% of the information on the Internet today was put there in the past two years. 

In addition, Cisco said that 2016 was the first year that a Zettabyte of information was transferred over the internet in a single year—a Zettabyte is 1e+15 MB!. 

What this means is that there is more content, more information, and more noise online now than ever before—and it is only getting busier. 

But if you’re an author and are working on being a thought-leader like I am, you were probably told that content is key, right? 

Well, maybe not, if you’re looking to carve out your niche and be someone people look to for new information, a new way of thinking, and a new perspective. 

The key to being a thought leader is originality and experience. 

Think Dan Pink, Oprah, Gary Vaynerchuk, Rita McGrath, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins, and many others. 

What sets these people apart from other content creators is that their material is based on their experiences and what they’ve learned throughout the course of their lives. 

When they create material, speaking from the heart and experience resonates much stronger to those who are listening because they aren’t twisting, molding, or tweaking something someone else has said before. 

Too often, I hear people that talk about needing to ‘start with why’ because they heard it from an incredible thought-leader like Simon Sinek.

Now don’t get me wrong, he is just that, but that doesn’t make the material the ‘content creator’ produces unique. Instead, it just adds to the amount of content that is out there to read that doesn’t have the same punch’ if it had come from the person who came to that conclusion on their own. 

For example, if I wrote an article talking about why you should ‘start with why’ because I read Simon’s book, that doesn’t make me a thought leader, it simply makes me good at digesting his experiences and adding a spin to make it my own. 

But if you were to hear it from Simon, the source, he would be able to tell you exactly how and why he came up with the lesson he now spreads around the world. He is able to be a thought leader because he could articulate his personal experiences and is truly someone who is creating real, original content. 

So, for those who are looking to be a stronger thought-leader as opposed to a content creator, my suggestion is to be present and clear about the life you are living today. Each day we learn new lessons based on our experiences and each lesson is a story that has value and could be shared. By doing this, and using yourself as an example, the content can’t be anything but original and the message being told is new—no other person will have had the same experience you did and learn what you did in that way. 

Lead thought, don’t recycle it. 

Educate, don’t re-educate.


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Written by Eric Termuende

Eric Termuende is founder of the DRYVER Group., a consultancy focused on the the attraction and retention of top talent. In 2015, Eric was recognized as a Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 globally by American Express. He sat as Community Integration Chair for Global Shapers Calgary, a community that functions under the World Economic Forum. Eric is a former Canadian G20 YEA Delegate, representing Canada in Sydney in 2014. In 2016, Eric spoke at TEDxBCIT in Vancouver giving his presentation entitled ‘Bigger than Work’. Eric has worked and spoken with clients across the world for the National Speakers Bureau, and was VP Operations and Finance for the University of Calgary Students Union and Class Ambassador for his graduating class. Finally, Eric currently sits on the Vancouver Board of Trade Company of Young Professionals Board.

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