There’s a myth among many entrepreneurs and leaders – that one day a call will come from a publishing house, a TV network or a leading industry event – and they will finally be recognised as the authority in their space.
Sheryl Sandberg coined it nicely as the ‘Tiara Syndrome’. Describing a condition of quietly creating exceptional work and waiting for someone to notice, then acknowledge us by placing a tiara (or a more masculine crown) on our head. Contrary to Hollywood storylines, although it does happen occasionally – it is always the exception rather than the rule.
The alternative – or antidote – is to pick yourself. To create your own platforms, to shine a light on your own ideas, to raise up the talent and expertise that work within your own walls as the star attraction. By stepping out from behind the brand and picking yourself as the thought leader – you don’t need to wait for the phone to ring. Instead, you can get out there, now. Here are five ways to get moving:
I recently spoke with the CEO of a start-up who, prior to launching the company, had always worked for large corporates with inbuilt credibility. Now he’s running his own enterprise and as the new player – finding it hard to be heard amongst the noise. Ironically he’s in the ideal position to stand out. He has a fresh voice, new ideas and a unique perspective – all of which would make his journey fascinating to potential customers.
Recent statistics show that 96% of the information we consume online is unbranded – in laymen’s terms that means we’re not watching brands, we’re watching people. As leaders that equate to huge potential to overtake more established players that are slower to move – who also have more red tape and regulations to get through, which can sometimes be the enemy of compelling content. The key is to get out there and show up. Start writing articles, speaking at events, creating compelling content, telling epic stories – essentially start getting visible.
There’s an art to creating ideas that stand out. In the words of Dorie Clark the author of Stand Out – look for ideas that combine everything you’ve learned to date – with trends you can see coming in a marketplace. Clark suggests using these ideas to then develop niche expertise – by essentially looking at different worlds you can bring together and combine in new and exciting ways.
Elon Musk literally took the concept of the different world to the extreme with his much-publicised work at Space X. Whether you agree with his vision or not – his unique approach to combining the worlds of engineering, energy efficiency and space travel is always captivating. Even when he misses the mark – we still remain fascinated by his journey. An idea sometimes needs to be just audacious enough to break through the noise and capture the attention of your industry.
There is actually a surprising amount of business lessons that can be learned from watching Taylor Swift. Before I lose you all together, I want you to look at her touring strategy. At each and every one of her sell-outs dates tour dates, she always brings in a surprise artist to collaborate and perform alongside her. I’m not talking about a lesser known warm-up act to keep the crowd entertained – I’m talking about literally sharing the stage with another large blockbuster name – often with a very different style.
So why would she do that? Pop divas aren’t known for wanting to share the spotlight. The reason she does is a) it adds huge value to her fans to have an experience she couldn’t provide alone b) it adds value to the other performer by increasing their exposure within her fan base, and c) she then, in turn, gets access to their fans and followers. The previous paradigm would have been, these are my fans – by taking a collaborative mindset Taylor Swift’s world domination just keeps growing.
The choice to build an influential platform around yourself – and your team – is the single biggest differentiator I see with individuals and companies that become an authority in their space. Take Macy’s recent decision to turn hundreds of its own employees into fashion influencers under the banner Macy’s Style Crew.
The truth is that we no longer follow brands – we follow people. In particular, people that bring us new ideas, fresh perspectives and a network of other incredible people that we can benefit from access. That’s the definition of an influencer – and it’s far cheaper than a diamond crown.
Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration of what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or juliemasters.com.