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The Hard Way: Don’t Grab Every Idea!

Many thought leaders gather content like magpies decorating a nest. They’re intellectually curious and constantly exploring topics that interest them. Here’s a shiny button. Here’s a piece of string. Every article they read and every conversation they have, leads to new ideas. Sure, magpies end up with a lot of content, but that kind of work will never build a cohesive platform for your thought leadership. You’re doing things the hard way!

Once, we had a thought leader show up with stacks of content on tons of topics, addressing so many questions that her real message was hard to grasp – or find! It was like a hoarder’s version of thought leadership. Yet within all that material, she had solid ideas that would benefit her clients. They were just getting lost in the tangle. So, how do you take years of diverse thought leadership and distill it down to its essence?

Ask some of your current clients these questions:

  • What excites you most about my content;
  • Which of my ideas solve hard problems; and
  • What’s just noise?

It’s easy for thought leaders to be too close to their content, or so in love with considering new ideas that they forget about amazing solutions they’ve already created. In writing, narrowing down your focus is called “murdering your darlings.” To be successful, you have to clearly analyze your ideas, find the strongest ones, and focus on innovating around those concepts. What’s at the heart of your solutions? What drives your content, and what does it do best?

Lastly, evaluate your content’s timeliness; will this material still be relevant and meaningful in five years? Ten? You don’t want to waste your valuable time on ideas that are too topical, or won’t be important years down the road.

Your clients and buyers don’t want content that attempts to solve every possible business issue known to humankind. Attempting such comprehensiveness will simply overwhelm people – and your best ideas will get lost. It’s better to be known for solving a few issues well than for having a massive pastiche of content that’s been poorly stitched together. Don’t be a magpie! Stick to your best work, and keep it relevant and clear.

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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