First, I should explain this is not your typical marketing book. Whatever you think a typical marketing book may be. Clark is a marketing consultant who is consistently featured in respected publications like the Harvard Business Review and works with top companies such as Google and Microsoft. This book is not just for marketers per see – it teaches how anyone can develop their expertise and leadership within their given niche. Clark is very specific on her term thought leader. You may be a well-known celebrity or have developed innovative information in your field. To be a thought leader though but you need both.
Throughout the book, Clark supplies examples of outliers in various industries. Many of these outliers were already quite well-established. Their courage to speak up against a widely accepted thought put them even further ahead in their careers. It can be scary to go against the grain, but without those brave individuals, we would be without major innovations in science, technology, and beyond. So without further ado here are my top ten takeaways from reading this book!
- Don’t Be Afraid to Go Against the Grain Remember those times in class when you thought you knew the answer but somehow everyone else was agreeing on a different one so you don’t say anything and kept to yourself…only for the teacher to announce the correct answer and you find out you were right all along? This doesn’t just happen in the classroom – it happens in established industries amongst professionals more often than you think. How else are breakthroughs made? Do not be afraid to speak your mind and go against the grain of what is considered ‘common knowledge.’
- Grow Your Skillset What topics/industries are you interested in? What fields do you have a natural knack for? I would argue that go for what you are passionate about first, but if that happens to intersect with what you are good at all the power to you. The point is to do a deep dive! Take online courses, read books, and listen to podcasts. We have so much information available to us now, make sure you really immerse yourself. As the saying goes: You have to learn the rules before you can change them (Actually, Pablo Picasso stated “Learn the rules like a Pro, so you can break them like an artist.”)
- Provide New Research Once you’ve covered what there is to know, consider what can you add to the conversation? Do your own investigation in the form of interviews, on-site examinations, and reviews. This new information can include your own spin based on previous knowledge, personal experience, or your own unique opinion.
- It’s All Relevant Counter to the belief that we need to be highly specialized and focused on one specific niche, having knowledge across a range of disciplines is actually quite useful. And when you’re working on combining ideas to create one ‘breakthrough’ thought – being able to draw from many disciplines can create ground-breaking theories.
- Create Your Systems So you’ve thought outside the box, studied your topic extensively, and completed personal research. Now how do you organize all this information into one inventive thought? Break it down into simple steps. Start by clarifying the main principles, connect the ideas with an overarching framework, and refine it into a manual, guide, whatever you want to call it that makes sense for your field.
- Build Your Network Traditional networking gets a bad rep. Often times it’s associated with people awkwardly cramming into a room, handing out business cards, or always looking over your shoulder to spot someone else to leech onto. But networking does not have to be bad. Instead of thinking what can this person do for me, flip it and think about how can I help who I am connecting? The right professional network should help refine your ideas, assist in times of need and facilitate each other’s success.
- Communicate Your Idea The focus of Clark’s book is based on cultivating your ‘big’ idea – the idea which you will be known for. The previous steps are to help hone in on what that idea is. This step is to share that idea with the world. Whether it’s through the written word, audio, video, visuals, or a combination of all platforms – there is a multitude of FREE platforms available at our fingertips. We are so lucky to have the internet at our disposal, an unprecedented period in history. Just start sharing your idea and work your way up to being published by the major media conglomerates when you can.
- Build a Community Building a community can also go before Communicate Your Idea. Really the two go hand-in-hand. As you are branching out to communicate your idea, naturally you will also build a following around it. Reaching out to others in a similar field will start useful conversations and insights on both sides. Create a platform where others can learn and connect. Make it fun and exciting. As it was best stated in the book, “The best ideas don’t stay tied to their creators forever; they go out into the world and make a difference because people make them their own.”
- Making “Time” for Luck Routine can be a beautiful thing. Most people (myself especially) need a routine to maximize productivity and reach their goals. But what happens when each hour, each minute of your day is exactly mapped out? We need a little wiggle room to make time for luck. This does not mean having an hour where you sit around doing nothing. It means making space for new experiences. Take a different route, attend an event outside your comfort zone, and sit down with an acquaintance for coffee. You never know where these new experiences might lead!
- Top Performers Exponentially Outwork Everyone Else Above all, you can apply these takeaways all you want but without hard work, you won’t get anywhere. The top performers consistently stand out because they know how to outwork everyone else. Stay up to answer all those e-mails. Make an additional phone call or read another book. Whatever it is, go the extra mile because as they say it’s never crowded.
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