Are you taking this opportunity for granted?

I told her she was overlooking a huge opportunity.

I was on the phone with a client who wanted to build a personal brand as a thought leader in the homesteading niche.

She and her boyfriend recently purchased a plot of land. She was waiting to start the brand because they have a lot of work to do before they can move there.

I told her that would be a mistake to wait. Then I gave her the following advice.

“Capture everything you do, starting now. Shoot videos with your phone, take photos, and/or take lots of notes to turn into blog posts. But whatever you do, start sharing your journey online now. There so much you will be doing in the coming months that will be fascinating to the audience you want to attract.”

Building a fence around the property.

Setting up an address with the Post Office.

Researching what kind of solar panels to install.

All of these topics would make for excellent audience- and brand-building content.

One of the best places to find compelling content is in your day-to-day activities.

This could include:

  • Things you think about
  • Decisions you make
  • Something you are learning or researching
  • Your routines and systems
  • A tour of your space
  • Challenges you’ve run into and how you manage them
  • An “over the shoulder” explanation of how you do something
  • A sneak peek at a new project

And that’s just to name a handful of possibilities.

It can be as simple as turning on the camera and giving them an inside look for five minutes.

This kind of content is exceptionally effective because it feels real and transparent, it helps them connect with you, it satisfies curiosity, and it’s just really valuable and interesting for your audience.

Don’t take this for granted.

Get in the habit of creating content by mining your day-to-day and capturing things you are already doing.

You’ll never have to wrack your brain again for content ideas.

It’s important to have practices in place to intentionally counterbalance that with noticing the good.

When your brain is a real @$%&*

Think of one of your most vivid memories. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Was it a good memory or a bad memory?

When I was given this prompt by a friend, the first thing that came to mind was receiving a phone call from my brother telling me that my dad had passed away.

Research tells us our minds are more likely to remember bad memories than good ones. Scientists believe there are deep-rooted evolutionary reasons for this.

In other words, our brain can be a real @$%&* sometimes.

Perhaps this is related to why we are much more likely at the end of the day to dwell on the things that went wrong or didn’t get done rather than what we did well.

We’ve all had those moments when we doubt our ideas, feel like we haven’t done enough, or impostor syndrome gets the best of us.

If our brains have an inclination to more readily recall negative things, it’s important to have practices in place to intentionally counterbalance that with noticing the good.

I recently came across just such an exercise from author and psychotherapist, Pete Walker. It’s called a 12×12 Self-Gratitudes Matrix. You make a list of twelve things about yourself in the following twelve categories.

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Traits
  3. Good Deeds
  4. Peak Experiences
  5. Life Enjoyment
  6. Intentions
  7. Good Habits
  8. Jobs
  9. Subjects Studied
  10. Obstacles Overcome
  11. Grace Received
  12. Nurturing Memories

The idea is to memorize and recite these lists in those moments when you get caught in a downward spiral of fear, doubt, or “not enoughness.”

I was stunned at how hard it was to make these lists. It was as if my brain was afraid to acknowledge the good for fear that it would leave me vulnerable to the possibility of the bad.

It was all the more reason for me to persevere and do the exercise.

Whether it’s the 12×12 Self Gratitudes, positive affirmations, keeping a gratitude journal, or something else, I encourage you to integrate some sort of practice to train your brain to notice and remember the good things about you and your life.

As a creator and thought leader, you put yourself and your ideas out there, set ambitious goals, and expose yourself to the criticism every day.

It’s vital to have a source of grounding that reminds you of the good in your life for those moments when self-protection goes awry and threatens to slow you down or derail you.

Finding Your Voice as a Thought Leader

Finding Your Voice as a Thought Leader

As an entrepreneur with the goal of becoming an influential thought leader with a lasting legacy, it’s important to consider the body of work that you want to create.

The questions below will help you design your body of work. This is about you gaining mastery, growth, and fulfillment from your work while also creating the greatest possible contribution.

For each of the following questions, write as many answers as you can think of. It’s best at first to capture anything that comes to mind. Don’t edit yourself. This is about uncovering possibilities and innovative ideas.

  1. Recognition: What do you want to be known for?
  2. Opportunities: What kinds of opportunities and experiences do you want to enjoy?
  3. Achievements: What accomplishments, awards, or other milestones do you want to realize?
  4. Collaboration: Who do you want to partner or work with?
  5. Body of Work: What do you want to create? what ideas or value do you want to leave behind?
  6. Change: What change(s) do you want to create in the world (or your community or industry)? Are there behaviors, best practices, or ways of thinking that you want to transform?

Voice: Your Message and Perspective

In order for you to influence how people think and behave, you have to first earn their trust. Before you can earn their trust, you have to get their attention and keep it long enough for them to decide two things:

  1. Does this person have my best interests in mind – Likability
  2. Can this person’s content help me bring about my best interests – Credibility

We often assume that credibility is the most important of these two. However, research tells us that likability has more bearing on whether people want to listen to us.

Your voice is a reflection of who you are, how you think, and what is important to you. This is one of your greatest tools for demonstrating likability so that you can gain and keep the attention of your audience and earn their trust. Then you can influence and have an impact on the audience you serve. Without developing your unique and authentic voice, your message will fall flat and get ignored. It will be lost in the noise.

It’s important to understand that one for the primary reasons people will follow and support you is because of who you are, how you think, and how you make them feel. This is your voice in action.

When everything you do and say is founded in and congruent with an authentic voice, you will feel more invested in your work. Not only that, but you will feel more engaged and effective. When you use your authentic voice, people will respond in ways that are very energizing and fulfilling. This will further fuel your work. If you create content with an inauthentic voice, your creativity and motivation will wane.

Discovering and leveraging your unique and authentic voice can feel like a nebulous process. It’s not a checkbox that you tick off or a destination you arrive at. It’s an ongoing process that only moves forward by continually doing, creating, and sharing.

That said, there are a few specific things we will take a look at now that will help you understand and articulate important elements of your voice.

The 3 Whys

When you communicate a clear reason why your content exists, your audience will resonate more deeply with it. To help you do this, answer the following questions that I refer to as the “3 Whys.”

  • Why is it important to you to produce the content you do?
  • Why is your content important to those who see it?
  • Why is your content important to the world (or to your industry/community)?

Together, these three questions justify why the world is worse off if your content doesn’t exist. While that may sound like a grandiose way of thinking, it’s important to believe that you have something to say and that there are people in the world that need to hear it specifically from you. When they do, their lives will be improved to some degree simply by hearing your perspective.

When your audience understands why it is important for them to listen to you, they have a reason to continue listening. They know what the payoff is for investing their time and attention.

When your audience understands why your content is important to you, they come to understand that your motivations go beyond personal gain. This, in turn, gains their loyalty and trust.

When your audience understands why your content is important to the world, they gain a sense that by supporting you they are part of something that is bigger than them. This turns your content into a movement.

The “3 Whys” make for excellent content to include in your inaugural content. Even years down the road, people who discover you will want to return to your first content to discover where it started.

Your Origin Story

Your origin story is another powerful tool for demonstrating likability to your ideal audience. In a wider sense, storytelling is very effective at conveying your content in a memorable and impactful way.

Make a list of experiences, stories or anecdotes that have shaped your work and give it meaning. Here are some questions to help you.

  1. When did you first feel a strong desire to do the work you do now?
  2. What experiences have resulted in life lessons, changes in your world view, or ah-ha moments that now fuel your work?
  3. What are the biggest challenges you have been through in life? How have they informed your work or point of view?

It’s even effective to use these stories more than once. This ensures that more people hear them and integrate the underlying message into their thinking.

How can you integrate the 3 Whys and your origin story into your current body of content? If this inspires you to go create a new video, blog post, or podcast episode that will better allow your authentic voice to shine through, let me know! I want to see it.