We Discuss Leveraging Thought Leadership In 2020!
Peter Winick is the founder and CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. For the past two decades he has helped individuals and organizations build and grow revenue streams through designing and growing their thought leadership platforms as well as acting as a guide and advisor for increasing business to business sales of thought leadership products.
His clients come from a diverse set of backgrounds and specialties. They include New York Times bestselling business book authors, members of the Speakers’ Hall of Fame, recipients of the Thinkers50 award, CEOs of public and privately held companies, and academics at prestigious institutions such as Yale, Wharton, Dartmouth, and London School of Business.
Jonathan: Welcome back folks the WP Tonic show. This is episode 486. We’ve got a great special guest. We’ve got Peter Winick, CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. We’re going to be talking about something that had to become a full leader, how to be seen as one of the leading thought leaders in your industry, in your set. Whatever that is. And I thought Peter was the person to ask because he’s been helping people become thought leaders for over 20 years. Peter, would you like to quickly introduce yourself and add a little bit to my not that great introduction on what thought leadership is.
Peter: Sure. So, well, I’ll start by talking about the definition of thought leadership because I think it’s important. People throw around that word all over the place and it means different things to different people, which is the definition of confusion, right? So if we both were talking about an apple, but you were addressing a dog and I was addressing a piece of fruit that would lead to confusion. So let me just sort of tell you how I define it. It might not be the perfect definition, but as the operating definition that we use. So there’s sort of two pieces to thought leadership.
Peter: There is the thoughtful piece. So that’s, that’s the thought part. And that I mean that you have to be doing things that are thoughtful. That could be based on research. It could be based on client experience, it could be based on putting together the dots across functions or cross industries, across things. But it’s not you know, thought leadership is not copying and pasting and sharing, you know, a pithy quote or something that someone else said. So there’s got to be something thoughtful to it.
Peter: Second piece is the leadership piece, right? So on the leadership side one is you have to acknowledge that there is a body of work that’s out there and you are just adding to that conversation and leading it in a different direction, leading it into a new place leading into the next level. Because if all you’re doing again is saying what’s already been said and summarizing what’s already been summarizing and talking about what’s already been talking about, it’s really not enough. The last thing I would say about that is the term itself, one should never call oneself a thought leader. I think it’s a sign of hubris and arrogance and its code for I’m a jerk, you know. It should be bestowed upon you by others in your space, in your industry out of a sign of acknowledgement, respect for the content that you create that valuable to others.
Jonathan: That was great. Thank you so much Peter for that insightful intro to the subject. So I’ve got also got my great cohost Adrian. Adrian would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers.
Adrian: Hi everybody. My name is Adrian. I’m the CEO and founder of Groundhogg. We produce, sell and create marketing automation plugins for businesses that use WordPress.
Jonathan: And before we go into the main part of the conversation, I want to mention one of our great sponsors that’s Kinster hosting. And Kingster has been a major sponsor of almost three years there, they’ve been hosting also the WP tonic website. I’ve been totally blown away by the quality of their hosting and their support and the team in general. So if you’ve got a membership site, if you got an e-learning site, a Woo Commerce site or a site that needs some extra oomph in the hosting, you cannot choose better for yourself or for your clients Kingster hosting.
Jonathan: They use the power of Google cloud to host all the sites. What you get is one of the best customized interfaces with all the bells and whistles. I’ve got to say, when we going to go to other clients’ websites and support their websites on other hosting providers and I have to use their interfaces, I just think to myself, I just couldn’t go away from Kinster, it’s so easy to use. The other great thing is the quality of their support. All their support is top A-1 tier support. Everybody in their team knows what they’re talking about. If you have a problem, they’ve always done everything possible to try and help me. I can honestly say that. So if that sounds interesting, go over to Kingster and the main thing is tell him that you heard about them on the WP Tonic show. So Peter, so I must be a jerk because I’ve always said I’m a thought leader. But there we go.
Jonathan: So are saying isn’t there a forge then to help you on the way of thought leadership or do you just have to publish a lot, or be very thoughtful and hope others see your brilliance? How do you push the needle a little bit so that others see your brilliance?
Peter: Of course. I think the mistake that many folks make is starting with without a strategy in mind, right? So you can push out all the content in the world and all the thought leadership in the world. But if it’s in the right people, you know the wrong people in the wrong format at the wrong time, who cares? So I think to me the first thing is to figure out what is your strategy. And by talking about sort of a thought leadership strategy I’m talking about, you know, what’s your platform, not from a technology perspective, but what is your very, very small area of expertise that you have more expertise on than others that you are the thought leadership expert.
Peter: So for example, you’re not going to be a thought leader in sales. You might be a thought leader in consultative sales for technology companies or something like that, but it’s got to be specific. Then you have to think backwards and say, who are the folks I’m trying to connect with? Who are my avatars? So we always work with our clients and say, let’s sketch out two, three, maybe four client avatars with a very, very, very high level of specificity. Who am I trying to connect to? Then you’ve got to do your homework and say, how do those folks consume content? Right?
Peter: You know, we have a lot of clients that are really smart, they’re academics, etc. And they’re putting out, you know, well, we’re putting out 30, 40, 50 page white papers that quite frankly nobody reads. So you have to figure out how the people you’re trying to connect with consume content and make sure you’re putting out the content in the format that they enjoy the most. And then you’ve got to figure out where are they getting their information from and get it placed there. So I think a lot of people, what they do is the fun part of this is producing the thought leadership for many.
Peter: So they produce a lot of stuff and they produce it, they produce them, they produce it, and either they put it on their own site or, social media channels that they control. And you know, they’re talking to the same 20 people, 50 people, 500 a thousand people day in and day out. The trick is growth. The trick is defined, you know, net new people to come into your universe that are the right people because you don’t want to waste your time or money or energy attracting people that don’t look like the people that you want to do business with.
Jonathan: Yeah, that was great. Over to you Adrian.
Adrian: So I guess I’d say that you’re a thought leader on helping people become thought leaders. I’d love to know more about, because this has been a 20 year journey for you and they’d love to know where that, where that journey started. And you know, you don’t just wake up one day and think I’m going to be a thought leader and I’m going to help other people become thought leaders. Like that doesn’t happen, right? Or correct me if I’m wrong, but where did it all start for you?
Peter: Yeah. So no, I don’t think you’d do that, although maybe somebody might. So for me it was really two different sides of me that I realized were, not as disconnected as I initially thought they were. So I had always been entrepreneurial from, you know, being a young kid. And, you know washing cars and, anything sort of entrepreneurial. And then, you know, throughout my, my twenties, thirties, etc., building businesses from scratch, buying businesses, selling businesses, roll-ups, etc.
Peter: So always entrepreneurial, right? And when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re typically under-resourced. You’re typically in a little bit over your head. You’re typically always, you know, sort of trying to hit the next level, but you look back and go, Holy cow, why did I ever think I could achieve that when I wasn’t smart enough, didn’t have the resources, and didn’t have the technology, whatever. So always entrepreneurial and actually did that fairly well. The other side of me was I was always like, you know, a content junkie, always a nerd.
Peter: So I was always reading business books, always reading business magazines, Google that if you don’t remember when a magazine was, they used to come in the mail and they were very thick. Always just taking in whatever I could from a content perspective, but never, never sort of looked at the business side of thought leadership and content because it just never cross my mind.
Peter: And then about 15 plus years ago I got brought in to do a turnaround in a communication consulting firm. So it was a $60 million firm it was about 40 something years old at the time based in Australia, had an operation in North America and in Europe and they were in trouble, right? So we got brought in by the board because it was either something that they were going to shut down, sell, kill, or figure out how to make work. We figured out how to make it work. And what I learned from that business was it was basically a company that did presentation skills.
Peter: Like, holy cow, this is a company that makes $40 million a year selling content that somebody wrote 40 years ago. That’s fascinating. And then from there I went to work exclusively for a guy named Keith Ferrazzi who launched a book called never eat alone. And then, you know, fast forward to here we are today. So, to me the backstory is really the convergence of being a solid entrepreneur and being passionate about content and then merging the two together and going, wow, okay, this is my space in the universe. You know, I think like a consultant that’s there, the overlap of the two circles in the Venn diagram that has made.
Adrian: Right on, Jonathan?
Jonathan: So we classified what it is. We’ve delve into a bit of your backgrounds, why you got in it. So I think before we go for a break and then after the break we need to go into the nitty gritty of how you do it. So if you had let’s say you had a client from, because there’s one individual, what comes to mind? Let’s say you had a client come to you and they wanted to get, there was a particular software let’s say WordPress. They wanted to become a thought leader in WordPress and in the WordPress community. What are some of the first step in building this strategy to world domination of thought leadership in WordPress then Peter?
Adrian: I think he’s talking about himself but I can’t be sure.
Jonathan: I’ve not got that trump my dear Adrian.
Peter: Yeah, I think I got that. First off, there’s a couple of different levels here. There’s content marketing, there’s subject matter expertise, and then there’s thought leadership. So I would argue that being an expert in WordPress is somewhere between subject matter expert and thought leadership. So I would push back on that and say WordPress might be too big. Is it the technical, is it the visual? Is it the graphics? Is it the underlying business? I mean there’s like 10 different things. When you come to me and say, hey, what might you want to know about WordPress? Well, there’s like 10 different distinct areas. And I would find it hard to believe that the person that’s the technical guru is also the expert in the monetization side. Right?
Peter: So I think it’s in the word space, you know is the better question might be, how do I become a thought leader in building workplace businesses for these type of people that do these types of things? Does that, does that make sense?
Jonathan: Oh, I think your insight there was razor sharp, you know. Two individuals that I would say are thought leaders and one is going to be coming on the show in the near future. And the other has been, well they both have been actually the one I would classify as a friend of the show. But they are in depth really two – it’s Adam from WP crafter, which has over 150,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. But it’s really aimed at the newbie or the person that’s finding their legs in the WordPress world. And he’s built a really great niche in training people or offering advice.
Jonathan: And then the other one is Chris lemma, who is kind of seen as the kind of industry, if you’re starting a business in the WordPress sector, plugin business, he’s the person that can really advise you on these. So they’ve built two very extinct markets there Peter.
Peter: Yeah. So let me first clarify those markets. So where we operate with our clients from a thought leadership perspective is in the B2B space. So we work with content that has value to a business organization. Right? It sounds to me, and I could be wrong, that the first gentleman you described is more B2C, somebody looking to start. So I know nothing about that one. In terms of the B2C, I mean, that’s not my playground. You know, when people have content that has a business application, right, whether it’s sales, leadership, marketing, resilience, accountability, on and on and on and on and they’re looking to take that content into small businesses, midsize businesses, large businesses, nonprofit government agencies, etc. I’m just quite frankly fearful of the direct to consumer model because there’s an unknown customer acquisition costs, unknown lifetime value of the customer. It’s very marketing heavy, you know, in terms of what needs to happen, the funnels and click funnels and all that. That’s not my bailable*.
Jonathan: Yeah. So Chris Lemma would be more your cup of tea, would he?
Peter: Yeah, it sounds, sounds as if, yeah.
Jonathan: Yeah. I could actually see you getting on with Chris quite well actually. We’re going to go for our break and we’ll be delving into this fascinating world of thought leadership a bit more. We’ll be back in a few moments’ folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back. It’s like a lot of things actually. I see the abilities, the different outlets that you can utilize to build thought leadership have just exploded than let’s say four, five years ago. And now YouTube there are just different ways you can touch people, but with all this choice can come confusion. Let’s hope with Peter’s help, we can razor sharpen our focus, but I’m going to throw it over to my cohost again, Adrian. Off you go.
Adrian: So there’s a large portion of the business community that spends a significant amount of time sharing their opinions and their thoughts and you know, their, their expertise, quote unquote on, various different platforms and social media and whatnot. How do you go, you know, what are the steps that one has to take to really separate from the crowd as it were to cut through the noise so that they’re their knowledge and their insight, their help kind of shines everybody essentially trying to do the same thing?
Adrian: Is there a process or a specific way that you distribute content, a certain methodology to distributing the content? Or am I just completely off base? So what would you do to help someone kind of, who has this content, who has this extra shoes, and wants to help more people how would you help them cut through everybody else trying to do exactly the same thing?
Peter: Yeah. So I look at it as a continuum, right? So there’s stake and then there’s sizzle, right? So there’s one group of people that have the stake, they’ve got it, man. Their stuff is just dynamite. And when you read it or look at it or get exposed to it, its life changing. It’s mind altering. It does all this other stuff, but it’s not delivered with anything. Right. Then you have this other group over here that it’s all sizzle, but there’s no stake. So though they’re great marketers, you know, some of these folks, like you mentioned, you look at them and say, how are they ever doing anything that they claim that they’re doing when all I see them is, you know, they’re online 24/7 you know, live streaming.
Adrian: I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed and I get ads for like 20 different influencers and they’re all saying that, helping people create like $20 million businesses a month. But if you’re recording, I see you like live streaming, like, you know, three times a day and you’re running all of these ads. Like, where do you find the time?
Peter: Exactly. Why would you sell me all your brilliance for $12 a month?
Adrian: It does not convert.
Peter: It does not add up. So I think a couple of thoughts there. Number one if you’re all steak, meaning, you’re just not particularly charismatic or it’s not your style or you’re a little more shy, work on getting a little bit of sizzle because people need things delivered with a little bit of sizzle. That’s what we want. If you’re all sizzle and no steak, good luck, you know? Okay. That’s okay. You know?
Adrian: But essentially what you’re saying is that having supreme quality content is in and of itself an attribute to cutting through that noise.
Peter: Yeah. I think ultimately what wins is great content, right? So if I’m a great marketer and I’ve got all the sizzle, that’s fine. You can thrill some of the people some of the time. And I think that just because everybody can be a publisher, just because everybody can be a broadcaster, just because the cost of creating content is almost zero right now. It means that everybody is doing it, that the value for great stuff is actually going through the roof right now because I could Google whatever, you know, build a WordPress site, right?
Peter: And I can find 80,000 hits on how to do it. 99.9% will be absolute crap, right? But then there’ll be that little bit of stuff like stuff that you guys have that it’s like wow, that’s consistently insightful. It’s valuable. It’s something that’s applicable to me. Right? And I want to go back for more. So some of it is about trust, some of it is about being consistent and there are no shortcuts, right? Like to consistently produce high caliber thought leadership takes time, energy and effort. You can’t phone it in.
Adrian: Right. I know, and just as a flow, I know a great number of people who I trust with my business, with my money and with my time to an incredible degree and yet they are focused on other things other than the benefit that they have to possibly share on a much larger scale and actually like be a thought leader. And I’m wondering, I’m sure there are a lot more people out there who are consistently sharing their knowledge and helping a significant portion of people, but aren’t able to actually monetize that in any way, shape or form. Because they either A, don’t know that they should be monetizing it, or B, they don’t know how to. So how would you typically monetize somebody’s insight and expertise into creating a following and creating products and actually you know, turning their mind into money? How does that work?
Peter: The first thing goes back to something I said earlier, who values it the most, right? So you got to go back to the client avatars and do your homework and say who would assign the most value to my expertise? And that’s that. And sometimes it’s not the obvious, right? So number one, do they have any money?
Peter: A lot of people like this seems like, duh, but there’s a lot of people creating a lot of stuff. You know, people that are broke putting up content for other people who is broke. That’s not a conversation I want any part of like I’m old school. I don’t know how to make money from people who don’t have money or don’t know how to make money. So where does your content provide value to? And I think you need to be honest and be able to sort of do a forensic audit on your content that says here’s the impact or the outcomes that I know my content has, right? As a result of somebody working with me in whatever manner they choose to, they will do X better, faster, cheaper, quicker. And if you can’t sort of do that, honestly, you’ve got a problem, right?
Peter: So I always think about it and say there’s some intervention that someone has with your content. What’s the before and what’s the after? So if you remember the old Jenny Craig commercials, you know, they show a large person, then they showed images of frozen pizza or whatever, the Jenny Craig stuff is. And then they showed time went by and the orange person looks smaller. So clearly the intervention and the takeaway to watch it with the sound off is, okay, large person intervenes with this company, Jenny Craig. They become smaller. Okay. That’s the intervention. What’s your Jenny Craig, right? So as a result of working with you, will it be, I’m going to acquire clients better, will it be, I’m going to negotiate whatever that is and then show me the money, prove it.
Adrian: Right. I’m also interested in, I mean, yes, find that avatar, and find what they’re probably willing to pay or what their value is to you. I’m also interested in the actual product lineup and how you transfer and how you turn your knowledge into products.
Peter: Yeah, so let me talk about that. I’m not a B2C guy, so I’ll talk about it from what I know, which is B2B. So typical model is someone’s got a brilliant idea. Maybe that idea lives in a book, maybe it lives in a keynote, maybe it lives in a workshop, maybe it lives in consulting work they do and fine. But they’ve already done stuff with the idea and they know it gets aha moments and it works. Now the question is, what else can you do with that? Right? So again, depending on the avatar, you can take the same idea that lives in a book that lives in a keynote, lives and whatever, and maybe turn it into a validated assessment tool.
Peter: People love to learn about themselves, right? Teams loved to learn about the teams. Organizations love to learn about the organizations. Now creating a validated assessment tool, it takes more money, costs more money, takes more time than writing up some silly questionnaire and answer these 10 questions and it’s going to pretend to give you some insight into your psyche or something. I mean, there’s a scientific methodology and process that you need to adhere to do it. Because what an assessment does is it measures something. So the reason I always use the same ruler is I know it’s 12 inches and every time I measure something in inches and inches and inches hitch. When you have non-validated instruments that people put out in the market all the time, it’s not measuring anything, right? Like it might measure my feelings one day and someday, you know, it’s not a consistent measurement.
Peter: So validated assessment tools are one, turning the content into things that don’t require you to be in the same room with your content for dollars to change hands. So the curse of the expert is, hey, I’ve been doing what I’m doing for a long, long time, so get me in front of somebody and I can do it. Okay, well that’s great. But that’s a limited monetization path in terms of.
Adrian: There’s only 24 hours in the day and there’s only 365 days in the year and you’re only going to live for 80 to 90 of those.
Peter: Yeah. Well, exactly, and ultimately there’s only three ways to make money with content.
Jonathan: These strange days has been a bit optimistic.
Peter: Yeah, exactly. But ultimately when you boil it down to its essence, there’s only three ways to make money with your content. You do more of what you’re doing, right? You do more of what you’re doing at a higher price, but you’re able to move up market again, that limits to the 24 hours in the day. And ultimately you have to digitize and scale it where the content is an asset that is generating dividends and revenue, it not dependent on you. So again, assessment tools, video based learning, consulting tools, licensing, thought leadership is a global business.
Peter: So just because you’re living in Toronto, we’re in and I’m in New York and Jonathan’s in Nevada. Doesn’t mean that the stuff that we create doesn’t have value to someone in Singapore, Brazil, London, etc. Right? And I think oftentimes people are too myopic in their thinking and think that, wait a minute, who can I help globally is if there’s evidence that it works on a universal basis. And there’s, you know, there’s some nuances they not everything translates well etc. But more often than not, you can find a global audience. If you look hard.
Jonathan: That’s great. I think we’re going to wrap it up for the podcast part of the show. Goes quick, doesn’t it? But hopefully Peter has agreed to stay on, and we got some more interesting questions to ask. Obviously I’m in the e-learning building membership and e-learning experiences for my client clients. And I get asked all the time, how do I get audience for my course and you need to be a thought leader. So we’re going be discussing that in the bonus content. So Peter, how can people find out more about you, what you’re up to and your thought leadership?
Peter: Sure. So you can send me an email directly at email@example.com you can go to the website, thoughtleadershipleverage.com and then you know, all the typical stuff, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. And then we also have a podcast as well, which is leveraging thought leadership. You can find on any of those places.
Jonathan: And Adrian how can people find out more about you and what you are up to?
Adrian: Anybody looking to get some expertise and some help with their digital marketing and their email marketing. You can go to Groundhogg with two g’s dot io (groundhogg.io) Pick up our plugin, which will help you build great sales funnels and, and work in and create B2B sales, B2C sales and all of that good stuff. That’s Groundhogg with two g’s dot io (groundhogg.io).
Jonathan: And my beloved, the WP Tonic tribe, if you really want to support the show, and I know you want to support the show and go over to the WP Tonic website and sign up for our monthly newsletter, it’s been invigorated. It’s going to have loads of WordPress and also e-learning information tips. The plugins recommend on the Friday a round table show it’s packed and you can also win a prize. Anybody that joins during the month, I’ll be announcing the first winner tomorrow live on the show that’s if Facebook is working like today. I’ll be announcing the first winner. And anybody joining in the coming months, I’ll be choosing one every month and they will be winning a prize of about a hundred dollars or more depending how generous my sponsors are. We will be back next week with another great thought leader like Peter. We’ll see you soon folks. Bye.
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