There's plenty of philosophers out there. Most of them have “day jobs.” It’s hard to…
In most businesses the goal is to develop a product, service or solution that can be leveraged. It’s not a very controversial topic – it’s just how companies operate. In the world of content it doesn’t always work that way.
I couldn’t image Steve Jobs ever telling his team, “Hey that MacBook thing is pretty cool, put I’m kind of bored with it and just want us to sell iPads this year.” I’d find it equally hard to believe that the folks at Proctor and Gamble would say the same thing about a line of toilet tissues that generates $3 Billion a year. However, authors and thought leaders do this all the time.
They create valuable assets in the form of workshops, articles, books, tools, models and the like, spending a tremendous amount of energy refining and honing them. They deliver them for a while and then create something else. This is what makes them special.
The ability to create content that can have a measurable change on individuals, teams and organizations. What also is unique about this behavior is that is more closely associated with a creative artist than someone that serves the business market. The question is why? Why would they continue to create new solutions before they maximized the return on their investment in assets that are incredibly valuable?
There are a few explanations:
1) Boredom – Delivering the same stuff (regardless of how incredible it is) gets boring. These are folks that need constant intellectual stimulation, that thrive on the challenge of solving a new problem, or an old problem in a unique way.
2) Lack of a Strategy – Content is created on a reactive basis. A client needs to solve problem X so the thought leader creates or revises some neat stuff to solve that problem and is off to the next client and the next client, and so on…
3) Fear of the Unknown – Creating great content requires a very different set of skills then marketing and selling it. The comfort zone is in the creative sphere and they don’t like, enjoy or understand how to leverage it effectively.
4) The Challenge – If they are not constantly challenged to come up with solutions they don’t want to take on the client or project. This is almost the opposite of how large consultancies work. They develop a deep expertise, perhaps by dominating a vertical, and go after the same type of clients over and over again. It might not be particularly challenging but it is profitable and provides the client with deep expertise (although it may be somewhat myopic).
So how do you “fix” this? The answer is you don’t – you work around it. Creative intellectuals need to create just like an artist or a film maker or a poet. And most of those folks don’t know how to (nor would they care to) learn how to maximize the assets they’ve developed over their careers. What they need to do is find a partner or a resource that thrives on leveraging content – that knows how to put the right deals together and let them be tasked with monetizing what the thought leader creates. This will generate the cash flow that will allow the thought leader to spend the time he/she enjoys creating content and will increase their exposure and brand in the process.
If you’re a thought leader I’d suggest you carve out a few hours to take an inventory of all the content you’ve created over your career. While it may be an activity that’s not particularly gratifying, it will give you a sense of what you actually have and will help you to prepare to have a conversation with someone that knows how to have those idle assets work for you while you’re free to create the next amazing solution.