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Get Your Ideas Out of the Attic

Thought leaders often live in the future. They’re constantly scanning the horizon for new ideas, new innovations, and new solutions. The book they wrote two years ago? To them, it’s old news. Blog content that was written three months ago? It is as appealing as week-old fish. That old thing? Who would care about it! The thought leader’s intellectual curiosity had led them to focus on bigger and more complex horizons.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down there.

Your past content is still powerful and relevant. Why aren’t you using it? Too many thought leaders constantly chase new directions without realizing they could be monetizing their previous work:

  • The ideas in a past book or article;
  • That consulting project for a client a few years ago; or
  • That one-off workshop they developed for a select group.

Those items could have been created to be evergreen and scalable – and if they weren’t, they certainly can be made so now.

When we start working with a thought leader, we do a discovery request.

We ask, “What materials and products have you already built?” Even though we emphasize the past, our first request usually nets a lot of current – or still-being-developed – material. Our thought leaders send us projects they’re actively creating, proposals they are putting out, and ideas they have for the future. We have to stop them and say, “No, no, no. Show us your already-existing stuff. Let’s go back into the attic!”

The “attic” is where thought leaders usually keep a lot of good thinking that hasn’t been fully turned into value. You’ve done a lot of hard work and coming up with ideas, you just haven’t given it to the market. Yet thought leaders often say, “Oh, but that’s so old, I’m much more interested in this new thing!” They’re always at work thinking about the next innovation, the next book, the next article. They’re living in the future, not realizing that new buyers may be suffering from problems they’ve already solved. You need to realize that the “old news” in your attic may be fresh content to your clients.

Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1889, and he spent decades focused on this message. He built a hugely successful business to support his work. He had message discipline. He stayed with his content. He believed his work had true value, and he also knew that it was going to take people time to fully digest the content and absorb it. So, rather than chase the next shiny thing, he slowed down and worked at the pace of the buyers and learners, rather than at the pace of his own intellectual curiosity.

Many thought leaders are often driven by intellectual curiosity.

They’re passionate about their work, and they love finding new solutions. They think about problems and challenges at a high level. However, most business leaders and buyers haven’t thought that deeply about your topic as deeply as you have. Why? Well, they’re busy with the day-to-day tasks needed to run their organizations.

Sometimes, going into a thought leader’s mental “attic” is like going on Antiques Roadshow, where people bring in old, neglected items, and ask if they’ve found junk or treasure. Your old ideas still have value, and there are plenty of organizations with problems you’ve already solved. So, go back into your attic and reevaluate those past ideas. You may find you’ve got a lot of treasure, just waiting to be found!

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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