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five flawed assumptions that most thought leaders make-but you won't

Top 5 flawed assumptions that most thought leaders make. (But you won’t)

I work with thought leaders from around the globe.  Folks that are at the top of their game.  True experts in their respective fields.   Some are world-renowned academics.  Others are CEO’s of brand name companies.  Best selling authors and top tier consultants.  Smart and successful people.  Very smart and incredibly successful actually.

That being said, most have had or still have a few flawed assumptions when it comes to how their work, their book, their keynote or offerings will be rapidly adopted and will transform their respective clients.  Again, super smart people at the top of their game.  I think there’s something most of us can learn from these flawed assumptions.

five flawed assumptions that most thought leaders make-but you won't

If they love my book they’ll track me down and hire me.

Actually that’s not the case. Far to often a best selling business book is very theoretical or too academic and does not explicitly communicate to the reader that there is a suite of well thought out tools, offerings and services that can be adopted by their organization to develop the skills or drive the behavior change discussed in the book.  Ideas need to be put into action.


The publisher will take care of the marketing of my book, after all they paid me a nice advance.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Your book is (and should be) far more important to you and your success than it is to your publisher.  Given the frail state of the publishing industry and the rapidly changing habits of readers they are not investing in the marketing of books at anywhere near the rate they used to.  You are the SVP of Sales and Marketing of the book and need to accept and fulfill that role or it will not succeed.  The days of “buying your way” onto a best seller list are also over.  It takes a plan, discipline and effort to get the book in the hands of those that matter most to you and your business.  Think niche not mass market.


My stuff is revolutionary!

So was the Palm Pilot, the Fisker and Betamax.  Better solutions or breakthrough thinking alone will not insure success.  Are your ideas easy to understand?  Can an organization adopt them with ease?  Are the benefits to the business quantifiable?  If not, you’ve got some work to do.


My work is complex, people will take the time to understand it.

And again, a resounding no.  Complex is fine, complicated and clunky?  Not so much.  Far too often thought leaders use their own jargon and focus on the processes, models and methodologies they’ve developed instead of clearly articulating the outcomes and benefits.  Have you spent the time to define with specificity what you mean when you use certain terms and phrases? Culture?  Change Management?  Engagement?  All have very different meanings in the context of different organizations. Clarify what you mean upfront. Your clients are not buying drills, they need to make a hole.  Even the most complex content has an outcome that should be relatively simple to communicate.  Make sure you take the time to speak to them.


I know the CEO/COO/CXO very well, of course they’ll work with me

Obviously relationships with senior leaders and decision makers are a good thing. However, the days of unilateral decision making are (for the most part) over. On average, according to HBR, in an enterprise sale you need to have the buy-in of over 5 senior leaders. There are many reasons behind that (such as the blurring of the lines between IT and Marketing, Sales and Operations, etc.).  Regardless of the reasons the days of the one man (or woman) deal are for the most part behind us.

What assumptions are you operating under relative to your content and work?  When was the last time you challenged them?  Remember assumptions are made at a point in time based on your perspective and analysis of the situation at that juncture.  They should be treated as dynamic and too many thought leaders, speakers and authors treat them as static.  Challenge your own assumptions more often and with more rigor to leverage your work.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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