Thought Leadership: An Essential Path to a Distinguished Career

Browsing through a selection of jumpers in the aisle of a high street apparel store, a familiar conversation caught my attention. 

I couldn’t help but overhear an exchange about ‘nailing’ the right size of clothing for infants. Having been there myself three times over, I could relate. I succumbed to the urge to offer my two cents on the matter. My thoughts and insights were well received by these two strangers. We had a laugh, and it was nostalgic for me. Our conversation went on for about an hour, we discussed pregnancy, parenting, and all the in-betweens.

These sorts of experiences are normal for me. Anyone who knows me, knows how enthusiastic I am about parenting. I am eager to learn and share my own learnings about pregnancy, motherhood, and parenting. Exploring that much-needed balance between building a successful career and a happy family. I am determined to embrace being a conscious, pro-active, and intentional parent. It’s a journey that I’ve been on for the past 12 years. It’s one that I’m still on, one that never ends. I am always reading, researching, asking, learning and improving my parenting style.

I find I have similar experiences when it comes to my other passions, Entrepreneurship, Writing, and the Culinary Arts. I find that I attract an audience in the areas were my expertise and experiences shine. Those are the areas in which I can add unique value. These are the subject matters that intersect with my passions. I share this to point out that we all have valuable knowledge, skills, and experiences. Nuggets of wisdom that we could be sharing with the world around us. Insights which we may underestimate but would do a world of good to others. The problem is, we doubt ourselves. We disregard our knowledge and down-play our experiences. We second guess things believing they make no difference. The truth is that in the bigger picture, they do make a difference. 

We shy away from sharing what we know, for we fear that no one would find it useful. We presume that they have heard it all before. We expect to be misunderstood or judged; we fear being vulnerable. It is only in moving past this point of self-doubt, that we can discover our path and find our voice. To share sincerely is to share authentically. The unintentional outcome is, we find our tribes and build community.

One sure way to put yourself out there is to focus on the very thing you do know and understand well. That’s where your confidence lies. Not to go broader, but to go into greater depth. I’ve heard Dean Graziosi describe this so well as, ‘bulls’ eye’ knowledge. His sessions at the ‘Own Your Future Challenge’ with Tony Robbins expound on thought leadership astutely. 

There is a clear and tested path to cultivating expertise. We all can build on our knowledge and experiences to create value and impact. In this article I will expound on the steps you can start to take now to build your authority as a thought leader. You will find yourself on one or more of these rungs. My goal here is to get you to your goal. If you start to apply this with intention, you will be sought after in your field. 

Cultivating Expertise

The Bull’s Eye of Specialization

It’s a bit more nuanced than the “jack of all trades, master of none” tag. Being a specialist is rooted in focus. We have been and continue to be tempted to branch out. To broaden our areas of focus. Nothing is wrong with this. It is possible however, to broaden your focus prematurely. It’s an easier win for you and your audience, if you dig deeper before you claw wider.

One star quality of a thought leader is Confidence. The confidence they have in their knowledge and in the skills they possess. This usually evolves organically. As their understanding deepens and their capacity widens. This relates to whatever subject matter, product, or industry they operate in.

Think of personalities like Jamie Oliver, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, or Marcus Rashford. What industries come to mind? We associate their names to certain skills, industries, or brands. This is because of their rank or authority in that space. The same can be said of you and I. What are we known for to our friends, our family, or colleagues? What knowledge or skill? The main difference we may find is how well we have been able to define or develop our skill. How deep or wide does our knowledge go in our subject matter or industry?

Paving Paths to Mastery

Building a skill must happen intentionally. It may be through education or learned application. It requires time and is proven by the impact it has. 

Google defines mastery as “Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity. You will agree with me, that to gain comprehensive knowledge or skill in something, one must give it attention and focus. This could be by learning or experiencing the subject or activity in greater depth with greater intention.

It is far easier to accomplish this if there is some foundation. You must hone the motivation to keep yourself engaged or connected to and through the process. By foundation, I refer to a natural passion or talent, a desire to inspire or teach others. And by motivation, I mean, what do you hope to get out of it? It could be some material reward like money. It could also be an intangible gratification like impact, fame, or renown. Whatever the case, the foundation or motivation must be great enough. This is what will keep you interested long enough to stay the course of gaining mastery.

Grounding Your Credibility     

Money and fame may come across as vain reasons to ground us in our journey to gaining mastery. They are not the sole reasons. Passion and Altruism have their play as well. They drive us towards the hard work required to gain a skill or attain mastery. Material compensation should be a very realistic factor too.

You have chosen to read this article and I presume that you are on your own journey to making your mark. Your motivation may be different to that of the next person. However, the requirement, common to all, should be our credibility, integrity, and competence. We must be adding value and inspiring others to do the same.

Let’s create a scenario here. Imagine you build a personal wellness brand. You work hard and establish a strong following. You build a thriving community around weight loss and wellness. Your promotions imply that your weight loss journey was on the premise of diet and exercise. If it so happens you did lose weight by some cosmetic procedure, and it is found out, it would be quite catastrophic for your credibility. All the trust and authority you have built would be upended. 

Building a personal brand is akin to working on your thought leadership campaign. Though we are to be persuasive in communication and marketing, it is critical that we are honest. You must be genuine and credible. It is ideal to gain mastery in an area of passion, of affinity, and then build organically. Rather than fly on a fad or trend. It is critical to have integrity if you are to be a credible thought leader or subject matter expert. You must be genuinely interested in the subject.

Curating Experiences

We live in a content-driven world. It is what it is. Many of us are keen on capturing moments on camera for posterity, some for social media and some not at all. In the world of Thought Leadership, creating, curating and archiving experiences is a supplement for social proof. Consider it a method of collecting evidence about who you claim to be or what you claim to do. You must develop your own style and voice. There are no hard or fast rules. There is a need for authenticity. Copying and pasting wouldn’t cut it, not quite.

Developing a Leading Voice

You have a unique voice. Finding your authentic tone of voice will attract your own tribe to you. Have a consistent tone of voice and use of language that your audience can connect with. Being consistent with your tone and style is essential. This will work to help you to achieve E.A.T. 

Originality & Vision

Work to establish your credibility and hone your message. That will become a good foundation for you. Do the work to build your expertise. Create, curate, and distribute content. Establish good partnerships and relationships with other experts. Work with digital PR agencies. They can help you with the distribution of your ideas and vision. Your passion must remain directed towards adding value and building knowledge. This is the value that your audience can leverage.

Communicate Your Value in the Market

To establish your position as a thought leader, deliver value in the related niche. You must know and understand the pain points of the audience you are building to serve. Using creative and innovation strategies that leverage your lived experiences.  Channel your ideas through the relevant platforms and relationships.

Crafting a Personal Brand

I came across a superb article by Harvard Business Review. It relayed a new approach to building a personal brand. It highlights the importance of some of the areas I have already discussed. Be clear on your purpose. Audit the authenticity of your brand and how well you as a person can embody it. Communicate your brand story to your audience and really engage with it. 

Leveraging for Career Growth & Expansion

It’s a given, you will grow and expand when you make a commitment to creating value. A practical example is Oprah. I read a clever article on Oprah’s personal brand. It was written by renown editor-in-chief of highprofileclub.com, Rafael dos Santos. In the article he relays how Oprah has demonstrated unparalleled influence. Her ability to leverage her personal brand to establish her conglomerate. From OWN, to OprahDaily.com formerly known as O Magazine, Oprah’s Angel Network. Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girl. In another article by George Paul at The ORG, he relayed Oprah’s entrepreneurial exploits. Highlighting her business ventures, partnerships, and investments. Oprah has invested in very successful brands. She has a significant stake in brands like Weight Watchers, The Food Kitchen, Oxygen Media and Apeel Sciences. She is still reaping immense value from these partnerships. These brands in turn leverage Oprah’s personal brand. She embodies incredible value. So much so, if Oprah endorses your book to her book club, you have yourself a best-seller. 

I paint this picture to how you what’s possible. Be authentic and determined to deliver value to our niche, great things are possible.


At The CopyShift Creatives we boast a strong team of experts, consultants, strategists, writers, and editors. We work to build authentic personal brands. We work with you to create a personal brand you can embody credibly and authoritatively. We sit with you to ideate a course of action and partner with you to create streamlined digital products. Designed to amplify your position as a thought leader in your field of expertise.

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