Write Like a Thought Leader

42. Write Like a Thought Leader

In this episode, discover how to write a book that will position you as a thought leader.

Being an expert on your topic is a great start, but becoming a thought leader requires something more.

Several of my clients have written books that separate them from the pack of experts in their fields, and you can too.  

Mentioned in This Episode

Real Money Answers for Every Woman, by Patrice Washington

Breakthrough Sold Separately, by Brandi Harvey

Audre Lorde

bell hooks

Angela Davis

Toni Morrison

Episode Transcript

Hey there. Welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach Candice L Davis.

In this episode, I want to dive into how to write your book like  a thought leader. And I’ll start by telling you I don’t love that term. But it’s what we’re working with.

This country is in need of thought leaders—real thought leaders—in almost every area and industry. You can absolutely write a book that positions you as a thought leader in your community, in your industry, or on the biggest stages.

Over the past weekend, I got into an argument with a friend on Facebook. She and I are actually real-life friends. I love her dearly.

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do social media fights. I’m not here for online drama.

My friend posted a question, and I answered the question in her comments.

Now, she and I quite clearly share many of the same values.

But we also differ on some of our political views.

When I commented, I thought I was sharing a different perspective with her and the people who were cosigning her post.

But she left a long reply to me (not as long as mine), letting me know how much my comment disappointed and hurt her.

Mind. Blown.

I thought we were having a discussion, and she thought I was demeaning her perspective.

Fortunately, she and I resolved our issue in the comments and over private message.

I don’t expect the politicians I vote for to be in alignment with my views on every issue, and I don’t expect everyone in my life to agree with me on everything.

I’m fairly liberal on a lot of issues, but I lived for many years in South Orange County in California, which at that time was a bastion of conservative politics. Ronald Reagan called it the place where good Republicans go to die.

So of course I have Republican friends.

I don’t need everyone to think like me.

But I do need to be able to express my opinion without a civil conversation devolving into an argument I didn’t even know I was participating in.

Can you see how desperately we need thought leaders in the areas of politics and civil discourse, and women’s rights, and equity? Not just politicians, but true leadership.

We’re desperate for thought leaders on human rights.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We need thought leaders in health care, education, and remote working. We need thought leaders in marriage and parenting and mindfulness.

This country and much of the world is facing an economic crisis. We need thought leaders in personal finance, business, and investing.

My definition of a thought leader is not the person who can get the most attention.

It’s not the person who can get a seat under the trees with Oprah.

I define a thought leader as someone who’s a recognized expert in a specific field or on a specific topic. But a thought leader is more than an expert.

A thought leader is someone who brings fresh ideas to the larger conversation or who can communicate important ideas in a new way or who can apply old ideas to a completely new situation. These are the behaviors of thought leaders.

Thought leaders lead the way to something better with their ideas.

Which brings us to the question of the day. How do you write like a thought leader?

Let’s be clear on one thing. You do not have to be a thought leader to be an expert or to be a successful author.

But if it’s important to you to use your book to position yourself as a thought leader, you can do that.

Writing like a thought leader begins with thinking like a thought leader.

Don’t just regurgitate the ideas you read from the top 3 bestselling books on your topic.

Don’t tell your readers what they can learn from reading a few blog posts.

Go deeper.

Take the time to question those ideas. Challenge the assumptions behind them.

What factors might those experts have failed to consider?

What variables did they overlook or not give enough weight?

How do you see it differently?

Where does your opinion diverge from the opinions of the current go-to experts?

When my client Patrice Washington wrote her Real Money Answer series, the common wisdom spouted by the personal finance gurus was that the best way to manage your money was to stop buying lattes. Deprive yourself and save more.

Patrice saw it differently. She advised her readers to choose wisely how they spent their money, yes, but also to take specific steps to earn a higher income so they could enjoy luxuries like $5 lattes and still pay off debt, increase savings, and have money to invest.

When my coaching client Brandi Harvey wrote her first book, Breakthrough Sold Separately, she challenged black women to make the connection between their spiritual journey and their mental and physical health.

More specifically, she called out the idea that “all you need is Jesus.” Instead, she suggested, many of us actually need therapy and the consequence of not getting it is evidenced in the rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases that affect our community.

Both of these authors have gotten pushback on their ideas.

They’re not for everybody.

As a thought leader, you won’t be for everybody. Most people are resistant to change. So when you ask them to see a familiar topic in a whole new way, you mess with their sense of security and they recoil.

But many people are looking for new answers. What they’ve believed in the past hasn’t served them, and they want a new way.

As a thought leader, it’s your job to give it to them.

Challenge the status quo, not for the sake of challenging it but in the interest of opening new avenues of discovery for your readers.

Apply what you’ve learned from your experience in other arenas to the topic you’re writing about.

Be willing to take a stand, not for the sake of controversy but for the sake of showing your readers and followers a new way.

Read the work of thought leaders like Audre Lorde and Lorraine Hansberry and bell hooks and Angela Davis and because I cannot make this list without her, Toni Morrison.

Find the thought leaders who write in your genre and read them, but don’t stop there. Read widely and read the people who brought fresh ideas to the page, not just the authors who repeated what the thought leaders said.

Shut out most of the pop experts for a while. You can learn a lot about marketing your book from them, but if you want to be a thought leader in more than name, consume original ideas.

Becoming a thought leader doesn’t mean you have to develop Nobel-prize winning literary skills.

So don’t let that deter you.

And you don’t have to come up with something completely new. What’s left that’s completely new?

Becoming a thought leader simply requires you to be willing to think differently and deeply.

To make new connections, to take a new stand, to consider new perspectives, and to communicate it all effectively.

You have the capacity to do all of that.

You have what it takes to write the book that makes you a true thought leader.

You just have to decide if it’s worth the effort to you or not.

That’s it for this week, my friends. If you enjoyed this episode, please share the podcast with someone you think will also enjoy it and leave me your glowing review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Reviews make a huge difference in new listeners finding the show.

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.

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