Almost Timely News, June 19, 2022: Thought Leadership, Jargon, Professional Certifications

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Almost Timely News, 19-June-2022: Thought Leadership, Jargon, Professional Certifications

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What’s On My Mind: Revisiting Thought Leadership

Thought leadership has been on my mind lately because of the sheer volume of PR pitches in my inbox asking if I want to interview so-and-so, a thought leader in whatever space or industry the PR person is pitching. Most of the time, I just straight up delete those pitches because they’re usually hilariously off target for what I create content about. The other day, someone pitched me on a thought leader in the cleaning products industry because they wanted to get in front of my high income female audience to persuade them to try this brand’s cleaning products.

Let’s recall my definition of a thought leader: a thought leader is someone whose thinking changes how you lead. Tons of people are in leadership positions – not necessarily the C-Suite, either. If you manage even one person, or if you manage a group of people who don’t work for you, like in a volunteer organization or your community, you are a leader. You are leading people, guiding them, directing them.

Thus, if someone else’s thinking changes how you lead (hopefully for the better), then that content is thought leadership content.

Here’s a clarifying filter on thought leadership content. Leadership inherently involves people. If a piece of content or a specific thinker is changing how you do things with technology, that’s not leadership. That’s perhaps tactical or strategic change, but it’s not leadership.

Think of leadership like parenting or pet ownership. You can change a lot of things about how you live or what you buy or which brand of food you serve, but how you interact with your children or pet is parenting. Someone sharing information about how to save money at the grocery store is essential and useful, but they’re not sharing information about the act of parenting itself.

If someone is claiming to be a thought leader but they’re not sharing ideas for how you interact with people, then they’re not sharing leadership ideas. They may still be good or great ideas, but that’s not thought leadership.

So let’s run through a couple of examples. All names have been changed to protect the guilty. “Bob has been able to reinvent the workplace mindset and offer innovative, out-of-the-box thinking that has created the foundation to his and other entrepreneurs’ success.” Okay, so far, so good. Bob passes the first test, which is that his pitch is about people. Let’s go to Bob’s signature post on LinkedIn which details his innovative 5 secrets to success.

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Be humble.
  3. Hire the right people.
  4. Sell more stuff.
  5. Don’t rely on others.

So… does this change how you would lead? Does this thinking change how you’re going to work with people, how you’ll approach people?

Okay, let’s move onto another pitch, this one about… uh, Bob. “Bob is incredibly experienced in transforming the marketing strategies of startup organizations, fast-growing pharmaceutical companies and thriving corporations alike. She would be able to provide incredible insight and share her expertise on marketing in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space.”

Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s go read Bob’s flagship article on Medium. An interviewer asked her what her blueprint for marketing success looks like. “Successful marketing must be omnichannel with a true north focus on the customer experience and the customer journey, not the product. Your channel strategy has to provide a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint.”

Does this change how you would lead? Does this thinking change how you’re going to work with people, how you’ll approach people?

Thought leadership, despite its (over)use in our current marketing and business world, is shockingly rare. Very few things will legitimately change how we lead, how we make decisions that affect the people around us, the people who work from us, the people who buy from us.

What are some legitimate examples of thought leadership? Correct or not, Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the Tipping Point about 10,000 hours of time needed to master something changed our expectations of how long it takes to become skilled. It gave us a concrete number and helped reset expectations about how long we should expect people who work for us to become proficient at something.

Brené Brown has coached an entire generation of leaders to be more vulnerable, open, and honest in their interactions in the workplace, encouraging people to live more complete lives. They don’t have to rigidly separate professional from personal, and that’s a big cultural change.

Bozoma Saint John, CMO of Netflix, focuses heavily on radical transparency in leadership roles, letting customers in to see the good and the bad, helping customers understand why we make the decisions we do. If you embrace radical transparency, you’re definitely going to change how you lead.

Thought leadership is rare. When you find it, when you discover it, grab a hold of it and don’t let go until you’ve changed how you lead.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the new Google Analytics course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend reading/watching the piece on business jargon. I enjoyed ranting about it a little.

Skill Up With Classes

These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.



Get Back to Work!

Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these five most recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.

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Click/tap here to enroll today »

Thank You Notes

These are the places you’ve had or mentioned me – on your podcast, on your blog, in your newsletter. Thank you!

What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Advertisement: Ukraine Humanitarian Fund

If you’d like to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has set up a special portal, United24, to help make contributing easy.

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Advertisement: Google Search Console for Marketers

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Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • MAICON, August 2022, Cleveland, OH – use code PENN150 for $150 off any conference ticket
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, October 2022, Boston

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.

Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.

How to Stay in Touch

Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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