Are you an expert in your field? Do you have something influential to say to people but for some reason you are not saying it? Mindy Gibbins-Klein who specializes in turning experts into thought leaders and the owner of two publishing related companies, Panomapress and Book Midwife believes there are many people who are great at what they do and have important things to say but for some reason are not saying it. These people have great insights, experiences and wisdom to share but don’t. In her opinion they should be ‘thought leaders’ and this book is about the process such people need to go through to become thought leaders. The definition Mindy uses in the book for a thought leader is, a futurist or person who is recognized among their peers, mentors and market for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote and share those ideas as actionable distilled insights. In 10 chapters Mindy takes the time to explain what a thought leader is, she also puts forward a framework called REAL as a way for people to become thought leaders and more.
This book is an easy one to read with just 173 pages written in simple language without any complex theories or models. It’s part motivational and instructional, at times it may feel like a book by a public speaker (well Mindy is a public speaker). Nonetheless it is an encouraging one to read littered with quotes and encouraging stories. Following is a brief review of the book’s chapters.
Chapter One – Why We Need Thought Leaders More Than Ever: Three main messages stand out in this chapter – what thought leadership is, why thought leadership is necessary and what is not thought leadership.
Chapter Two – Thought Leadership is a Choice: More time is spent in this chapter describing what thought leadership looks like. An important question is also answered – Are you meant to be a thought leader? To answer this question Mindy examines the things that prevent people from becoming thought leaders and they include, giving excuses and pressure of time. The last part of this chapter emphasizes why thought leadership is a choice considering the amount of effort that needs to go into it.
Chapter Three – REAL Thought Leadership: From my perspective the REAL framework which Mindy introduces in this chapter is the central theme of this book. REAL is an acronym for Reach, Engagement, Authority and Longetivity. Accodring to Mindy these four attributes allow the three objectives of thought leadership to be achieved. The three objectives are – developing innovative ideas, promoting and sharing those innovative ideas and attaining recognition through them. The next four chapters focus on explaining REAL.
Chapter Four – Reach for BOLD: Reach, the first of the REAL attributes is about extending ones reach to become noticed by much more people. Mindy describes different levels of where to extend ones reach to. She mentions geographic, cross-cultural, sector-specific reach and also being relevant. The next part of the chapter goes on to concentrate on ho to extend your reach. Mindy gives some specific advice on how to do this. She mentions networking, writing and publishing. Some good advice on how to network is also given, but Mindy puts a lot of emphasis on publishing particularly writing books. She is a big advocate for publishing books in print.
Chapter Five – Good Engagement is Bold: The next part of REAL, engagement is described in this chapter. Mindy defines engagement this way – engagement involves a heart-to-heart connection with your client, customer, audience or reader. The author goes through a good amount of details in this chapter to explain what engagement is, how to engage effectively and how to improve engagement. Some of the principles she discusses are defining the right audience and target market, achieving a special relationship with a customer, blogging and engaging with right media at the right time.
Chapter Six – Be a Shining Authority: Here Mindy explains what she means by Authority as part of the REAL framework. This statement explains her perception of authority in the sense of thought leadership – “When some people open their mouths, there is no doubt that they are experts, they know what they are talking about.” People with authority in thought leadership are those you can trust to give you sound advice on a specific subject because they have spent time learning and researching and probably have strong experience in that subject area. But to become authoritative in a subject area Mindy emphasizes that you have to know what you think, you have to know how to put your points across to people, you need to be bold, willing to create debate and avoid being too politically correct to the point where you don’t want to offend people. People with authority are not too concerned about how people see them, they are not afraid to express their views. Here again Mindy delves into blogging, but one important aspect of this chapter is the assertion that there does not need to be just a few thought leaders. She concludes the chapter with some information on getting our information out and this includes some advice on PR.
Chapter Seven – Longetivity Wins In The Long Run: This is the last letter in REAL. While it’s good to get information out, how long will that information stay in people’s minds. In other words, how long will people remember you as an authority after they have listened to you? How long will they talk about you? How much of an impression will you leave on them? This is what she means by longetivity. Mindy uses three Rs to define longetivity, they are recency, relevance and reference. Some advice is given on how to create this three R effect. Again the importance of writing, particularly a book is mentioned here.
Chapter Eight – How To Write a Book The REAL Way: For all prospective book writers you will like this chapter. Mindy gives some really good advice on how to write a book and also drops in some of her opinions rather strongly. She goes through a complete process on how to write a book and along the way expresses her disapproval for ghost writing. This is a chapter I really found interesting, especially the way Mindy was able to put the information across in a non-technical way.
Chapter Nine – What Really Stops People From Going For Bold: In this chapter Mindy goes through some factors that prevent people from stepping up as thought leaders. These factors include thinking like, ‘I have nothing to say’, and ‘Is my idea important enough’. Other factors are misuse of time, lack of discipline, ignorance and lack of confidence.
Chapter Ten – REAL Wealth: Mindy concludes the book by expressing that becoming REAL will give access to wealth but not in the traditional sense of wealth as we know it. She says wealth means more than money, REAL wealth as she asserts is, “a sense of fulfillment and well-being in any area of your life.” To her if people are able to share ideas and views which add quality to other people’s lives then one has achieved a certain level of wealth.
I found this book quite interesting and the three things I am taking away from it are:
- The REAL framework, which I intend to spend more time studying.
- The information on how to publish a book.
- The encouragement on not to be afraid to share our own views and ideas.