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Elevating Others Thought Leadership | Watchen Nyanue Hampton

Elevating Others Thought Leadership | Watchen Nyanue Hampton | 546

Helping others become seen and heard.

An interview Watchen Nyanue Hampton about sharing our power with others to reveal new perspectives.

When complex topics come up, thought leaders typically have a list of usual suspects we can turn to for information.

However, by continually going to these same sources you might become repetitive and miss out on new and important perspectives.

To explore why these old habits can be detrimental and how we can overcome our presets I’ve invited Watchen Nyanue Hampton to join me.  Watchen is the Founder and CEO of I Choose the Ladder, a boutique consulting firm in Chicago that does work at the intersection of talent culture and strategy.

Watchen starts us off by discussing how our defaults could be drowning out other voices and perspectives that could potentially be advantageous to your business.  Further, she shares how breaking that cycle can only happen with conscious and thoughtful effort.

Finding new voices that want to step into the spotlight can be difficult.  Watchen explains how finding them can only happen by getting to know people as people, by humanizing the way we interact with others in our personal and professional spaces.  Asking questions and being genuinely interested in others can help them feel seen and heard, which will have a massive impact on how they work and the pride they feel.

Watchen shows how elevating others in thought leadership and using your own power to share the spotlight can be good for retention, succession planning, and reaching wider audiences through wider conversations that you otherwise might never have been aware of.

Three Key Takeaways

  • If you are in a leadership role it is your job to know the people who you are leading.
  • Be intentional about the way you craft your life and your career. Always know that you have a choice.
  • If you are not part of the community and aware of the conversations that are going on, you are never going to think about engaging them.


If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.

Join the Organizational Thought Leadership Newsletter to learn more about expanding thought leadership within your organization! This monthly newsletter is full of practical information, advice, and ideas to help you reach your organization’s thought leadership goals.

And if you need help scaling organizational thought leadership, contact Thought Leadership Leverage or reach out to Bill Sherman on Linkedin!


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Bill Sherman If you’ve practiced thought leadership while you’ve probably spent some time in the spotlight yourself, maybe you got a round of applause when you were on stage where you felt the joy of seeing your name listed as the author of an article or a book. But today, I want to talk about the power of shining the thought leadership spotlight on others, especially emerging talent within your organization. Joining me today is Watchen Nyanue Hampton. She’s the founder and CEO of I Choose the Latter, a boutique consulting firm at the intersection of talent, culture and strategy. Today, we talk about thought leadership as a purposeful strategy for talent, increasing employee engagement, attracting top talent, and planning for succession. I’m Bill Sherman and you’re listening to Leveraging thought leadership.

Bill Sherman Ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show, Watchen.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation. So really excited to be here.

Bill Sherman We’ve got a lot of ground to cover. And I think one of the places that I want to begin, you and I haven’t had a conversation of turning to the usual suspects in thought leadership. And you were sharing backstage with me a great example of how that works to disadvantage. Why don’t we start there?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yeah. So I think that oftentimes, especially in corporate spaces, we want to default to the thing that’s easiest, right. So there are a handful of people that we know. And whenever there are opportunities that come up to share perspective or highlight someone, we go to the person that’s easiest. And oftentimes that means that there are voices and perspectives and experiences that get pushed to the background. That could actually be an asset for the organization or the person if we were able to bring them to the forefront. So I’m I was sharing with you, I was planning with a partner of ours. And, you know, Black History Month is coming around. There’s always Black History Month programing. And in a lot of these organizations, because of diversity, numbers are what they are. There are a bunch of usual suspects that if you need a black employee, this is who you put forward. And if you need a woman, this is who you put forward. If you need someone who’s a member of the LGBTQ community, this is like we have our go tos, but there are other people in the population who also belong to those groups who have interesting stories, who are thought leaders in their spaces, who could benefit from having that exposure. And so our conversation was for Black History Month. If we want to tell the stories of black people within this company, how do we not default to the usual suspects and actually raise some other thought leaders up to the forefront who have meaningful contributions that they could also share?

Bill Sherman I love that because it requires conscious effort and thought and planning. Because, as you said, it is easy to default to the usual suspects. It’s easy to retell the stories we know, and often repetition is a good thing, but it also can be off putting. And you gave an example of that as well. So I want to hand that back to you.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton About it being. So here’s the thing. If you’ve heard me speak a lot, you could probably tell me the stories that I’m going to tell, right? It can be a bit of like, oh, this is the same song and dance. And actually it comes across really lazy, right? To the audience or to the people who are there. But it also makes your employees or the people who are who are in the organization feel less valued. So when we talk about people’s what they prioritizes, they want to be seen. They want to be heard. And even if you don’t make a different decision, they want to be considered. Right. And so if there’s someone who is in a space and you’re giving voice to someone who they feel like doesn’t adequately represent them or their experience, it could turn them off to wanting to engage in whatever it is that you’re bringing forward. So even if you bring someone up who has a lot of expertise, if they don’t feel like that person adequately reflects their experience in their thought leadership, in their conversation, they tune them off and they comes across as inauthentic as you just checking the box and not necessarily caring about what they need on the other side.

Bill Sherman So there’s several things here I want to explore. First one being how do you expand the lens and use the example of the client that you’re working with, the partner where you said, hey, we’re going to look more expansive. How do you do that? How do you find the people who might be interested in the opportunity of having the spotlight shown on them, but haven’t had it yet?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton So what I’m going to say is going to be a little controversial, but go with me. You actually do get to know people as people. You have to know people, right? There is a kind of like. And to me, it’s like, it’s not rocket science. You can’t. If you don’t know someone and you don’t know their experience, you don’t know that whether they want to or not. And I think we have to humanize the ways in which we interact with each other, be that in professional spaces, be that in the clubs that we’re a part of. Have a conversation with somebody who may not look like you, who you assume does not have the same experience, but who if you talk to them for 5 or 10 minutes, there’s so many things that you probably have in common. And if you’re someone who is in a leadership role, it is your job to know the people who you are leading right? So that you understand what they need in order to give you what you need. Right? It’s a reciprocal relationship. And so part of that looks like asking questions, being genuinely interested in people, right. Not what they can do for the bottom line or what they can do for what you need. It’s like. Watching. Who? What are you interested in? Right. There are certain things that when you talk to me about, I will light up. But I may not just offer that up or volunteer that information. Right. So if you are someone who is who has the spotlight, also you can defer that spotlight. You can transfer your power to someone else. If you’re someone who knows that they’re always picking on me, I can say, hey, you know, I’ve done the last four panels I met with, you know, Sarah yesterday. Um, and I feel like she would be a great candidate for this. You don’t always have to say yes. If you’re the person that’ll make you less than. You can share your power with other people.

Bill Sherman Well and building on that. A call for a generic call for applications within the workspace saying, hey, we’re looking for speakers. Fill out this form if you’re interested, doesn’t have that human touch relevance. And you’re probably not going to get the same people raising their hands as if you went to someone individually and say, hey, I know you really are passionate about this topic and you understand it. I think you’d be great for this. And you can either open.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton So that you have special that would make someone feel that’s on me. Say I see you right that the applications are if someone’s like, I see that you have this contribution like that makes the person on the other end feel so special, but then it also makes them want to do a good job for you. And so the level of you’re going to put into it is going to be different. The pride that they feel in what they share, the value that they see, the contribution that they see, that you see, it makes a huge difference in morale. It makes a huge difference in retention. It makes a huge difference in loyalty to the company or to that person. Just to say like, I see you something that’s similar, right? Makes like pays off in dividends, um, in those spaces.

Bill Sherman I see you. I may not fully understand you and all of the pieces of yourself, the ones that are outside of work, communities that you’re involved in, etc. but I can see a piece of you and I see an opportunity for you. And I think as a leader, the ability to open doors, whether it’s a door that someone might not see themselves for, speaking at a place that’s like, I never thought of talking there. You want me to speak there or. Asking them where they might want to speak about their passions. Right. Because the communities that they touch, whether professional or, you know, whatever communities they’re a part of, may not be ones that you see and that may be invisible to you, because the world is wide and wonderful, and there’s no way all of us and all of the communities and groups of interest, any of us, can’t do it. We need meaning.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton And one of the things. So we used to do a podcast a while back, and we would talk about, when did you know it was time to move on. Right. So like a new job and another opportunity. And the answer almost always was there was a leader who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, who encouraged me to take that step. So part of that part of the impact that you could have in the thought leadership space is seeing the potential that someone has to be a voice right in space, in an occupied spaces that you may not understand. You and I talked about a documentary that I watched and on Tyler Perry, and he talks about the executive. Right, who I think Tyler had like opened movies at number one or whatever. So he called he’s had a major studio and he calls him his diversity Council. And he says, I’ve never heard of this guy. Like who? Who is he? Has anybody in here heard of him? And every black person in the room raised their hands and no one else. Anybody else who was not black had never heard of him. So that was a market opportunity. That was not because he’s being malicious. It just was not a part of his sphere. But having other thought leaders in the room who can say, oh, that guy did this, or he does this. It’s an asset.

Bill Sherman Absolutely. And that’s one of the, I think, the strongest arguments out there for when you’re looking at an organization style leadership or having many different voices that touch different communities, have different perspectives, different origin stories, because otherwise it’s the usual suspects speaking to the usual audience. And like you said earlier, those folks know, oh, in minute 15, this person is going to do that story with this joke and this twist. Nobody’s excited by that. That’s not thought leadership. That’s sort of like, you know, a canned routine wind up and go.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Maybe the first time you see it, it’s impactful. But the 10th time and the level of but being so predictable, right. Like you have a wealth of knowledge in organizations that people bring to the table and to me to not find a way to utilize that and use it as an asset is a huge missed opportunity for organizations.

Bill Sherman So I want to turn to some of the work that you do because it relates very much to this. You use the phrase that it’s a daily choice for an individual to climb the ladder. What do you mean by that? And can you help unpack that?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yeah. So I’m big on and not like fake positivity, but I’m big on being intentional about the way that you craft your life and your career, and to always know that you have a choice. You may not like the choices that are in front of you, in the choices in front of you may very well be terrible, but there are choices, right? And so for people who are going into work, a lot of times we look at corporate spaces or we look at our job as a thing that is holding us back, but in reality, you’re choosing to be there. And so if you’re going to choose to be there, you have to figure out how to have that thing be an asset for you, as opposed to something that you grudgingly go to every day because you’re going to have to go there, right? You’re going to go to work, you’re going to do the things that are required. And so there are things that we all know that things people are up against. Right. And for depending on the demographic that you’re a part of, what you’re up against while you climb the corporate ladder looks very different, but you can choose at any point to get off the ladder. Right. You can choose at any point to go and do something else or make a different choice for your life. Um, but while you are making the choice to be in these spaces.

Bill Sherman Figure out what you.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Need from them, what contributions you can offer to them, and how you can create a life for you and your family that you can hopefully be really proud of.

Bill Sherman So there’s a lot of complexity there, right? Because you look at it from an integrated self perspective rather than just, hey, this is me trying to get the next promotion or the next opportunity. You talk about family, you talk about all of the things of who you are when you’re not at work and that integrated self. And I think that’s a piece too, both for someone who wants to practice thought leadership and climb the ladder as well as for the leader. So you’ve got a view again, goes back to what you said, know your people and take time to see them and understand.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yeah. And because the thing is you don’t leave parts of you at home when you come to work. And that’s one of the things that I think we see, we’ve seen in the last, you know, 3 or 4 years with Covid and people becoming caretakers and, and a lot of responsibilities that all of a sudden, like, you can’t hide when you’re on zoom, people see your house if you have children or pets or whoever, they’re running around in the background. Right. And so I think it removed the thought that. You know, there’s a work self and there’s a home self and there’s right now there are parts of your personality that may be more dominant depending on the space that you’re in. But you are who you are regardless of where, where you are. Um, and I think one of the quotes and I may be getting this wrong, but it says, how terrible would it be to climb the ladder of success, only to get to the top and realize that your ladder was leaning against the wrong building? Right. So you get all the way up and you’re like, what is this? And there’s so many people who are not thinking about it in an integrated way. It’s what’s the next promotion? What’s the next phrase? What’s the next? And you get all of the things, you get all the accolades. You speak on every panel. You are that default and then you’re still so unhappy. And it’s like, yeah, because your ladder was not that’s not the building that you were meant to climb. You climbed it because for whatever reason or whatever was motivating you at the time. But you have to be, I think in this day and age, with all that we’ve seen in the last 3 or 4 years, I think you have to approach this from an integrated space. And that’s what makes you an interesting thought leader, because it’s not a one dimensional approach to what you’re speaking on, and you have put in different experiences that allow you to speak in a way that is powerful, that is captivating, and that can make change on a larger scale.

Bill Sherman And with that, for the people who have climbed the ladder, whether they’re leaning against the right building or the wrong building, one of the things is when you reach a certain level, you have the ability to either step in the spotlight yourself or shine the spotlight on others. And if I were to echo back to you, you said it’s a choice to climb the ladder. It’s also a daily choice, either to vote for a leader, to continue to step into the spotlight, shine the spotlight on others, and if they shine it on others, who do they choose and why? Right. And I’ve reached a point personally where there’s a lot of joy being the person behind the spotlight and go, come on, let’s go have a good conversation and here’s an opportunity for you to go after them.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton And I think that’s a sign of growth, right. Because you realize after a while that the spotlight is just it’s just something extra like it comes with some things that after a while you’re like, I don’t I don’t really need all of that. Right. When you’re more junior middle career, right? Ah, there are definitely payoffs for having a bright being that young star.

Bill Sherman Right.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton And it’s not it’s not all or nothing. Right. Like, you can decide as a leader or a more senior person. This is an opportunity that I want to take advantage of because of whatever reason. But then whether it’s.

Bill Sherman Personally that you want to take advantage or you’re the right person to be in the spotlight. Yeah. There are times where the spotlight is more that more seasoned person for one reason or another.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton But you have to be self-aware enough to know when that’s ego versus when that is actually the thought leader. Like the experience that’s necessary because sometimes there are opportunities that are not ours, but because of whatever that feels in us, we I feel like it’s that scarcity, like we just want to gobble it all up. But I think a seasoned leader is able to decipher between when this is an opportunity for me versus when this is an opportunity that is coming through me for someone else.

Bill Sherman Exactly, exactly. And the ability to delegate and to hand-off is critical to a leader’s growth anyway. And it’s true also in thought leadership. It doesn’t have to be about you.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton But Bill. So like people will say that until it comes to the spotlight. Right.

Bill Sherman Right, right.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Validate the work you love to delegate all of the things that you don’t like to do, but when it’s you being the star. So delegation also goes to thought leadership. It also goes to, you know, the opportunities to be on the panel, to travel to this place, to do these things. You’ve been doing it for 20 years, right? And we look however there, you know, we think about succession planning. That goes to thought leadership as well. Right. If your company is going to be viable and seen as a leader, it can’t be like, oh, somebody said this is his 46th time hosting this event. Everybody was like.

Bill Sherman Uh.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton I want that to be the story around you and who you are when you show up in these spaces. And so that delegation also extends to the spotlight.

Bill Sherman If you’re enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about our podcast, please leave a five-star review at and share it with your friends. We’re available on Apple Podcasts and on all major listening apps as well as thought leadership, leverage, dot com forward slash podcasts.

Bill Sherman Well, and in the spotlight. The spotlight can be very ego stroking, right? There are few things that you can do if you’re delivering a keynote or something where you get a standing ovation. There are very few jobs you do anything for 45 minutes can get a standing ovation, right? Or you write an article and all of a sudden you see your name in an article or a book or something. Those are all things that are flatterer.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yeah.

Bill Sherman To the self and the ego. But you talked about succession planning, and I want to combine succession planning with a conversation about retention, because those two are in many ways twins or two sides of the same coin. You can’t plan if you can’t grow and retain your people.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Absolutely. And you and I talked briefly about this, you know, with the market, the way that it is right now, sometimes you can’t give everybody who deserves a promotion, a promotion. You can’t give everybody who deserves more money, money. And so there are ways to be creative, to have tools of retention. And I feel like the spotlight and thought leadership in grooming someone and letting someone within your organization know, I see you, right. I see your potential for the opportunities that we’re going to help create for you to step into that potential. It’s an underutilized retention tool. I wish more people leverage this to help with morale, to help with loyalty, but ultimately to help with retention. Because if I see that you see a future in me, I’m going to work hard to see that future come to pass. Right. And so I feel like that leadership, speaking, opportunities for more visibility, whether that’s internally or externally. So this doesn’t have to be there. Speaking at the biggest conference ever, is there a meeting internally where they can present the day and you don’t have to write? Is there an internal panel? Right. So we were talking about my partner. It’s a Black History Month event. Can we put different voices there so that leaders because we know leaders will be in the room, people who they may not work with on a day to day basis, at least knows their name, knows their feet a little bit about them. Those are very powerful, very, very powerful retention tools that I wish more people would access well.

Bill Sherman And we’re now at the top of the year right now as we record, we’re in early January, and as leaders are sitting down with their direct reports, I think it would be an interesting activity to do is to say, okay, in addition to the day to day responsibilities, what doors are we going to open for you and what opportunities for you to build your brand and voice are you going to take on this year? And you don’t have to know by specific, but by putting that into a plan and making it something that you touch on over the course of the year and say, we’re going to find two internal opportunities or places for you, and we’ll find an external place, right. And I’ll support you. All of a sudden that changes the dynamics of the conversation. And allows a conversation of where would be good place, where do you feel comfortable? And the leader can do a little bit of nudging to move someone to the edge of the comfort zone without pushing them off the cliff into sheer terror. Right, because you don’t want someone to go, what do you mean? You want me to speak in Times Square to one of the largest consulting firms in the world? That’s not my first opening act for speaking. Let me try something a little bit smaller before I’m in Broadway. Right?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yeah, yeah. And I think, too, it’s also a great career for development. So you find out what they want to do and if their areas in their current performance that are weaker, use that as a, as a way to grow to be able to do that thing. So if they’re not the best public speaker, but they want to, you know, if they have aspirations to speak on a panel one day, what are some things that we can incorporate from day to day work that gives them practice in that muscle? Right. So now it’s not just something that’s independent of their goals. It’s actually it’s together. You’re working towards a bigger thing, but you’re helping them along the way with small developmental steps. I think we can go into performance reviews. People have anxiety. Most people don’t want to do reviews. They think it’s going to be, you know, getting beaten up, getting told what they didn’t do, what they can’t get, and all of those things. And so if there’s a positive element to that, um, that involves like a future where they are, you know, shining, if that’s what they want or if they’re helping.

Bill Sherman Them.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Sign, if that’s what they want. I think that’s very important.

Bill Sherman Well, and to your point, in terms of speaking, it may be a question of instead of speaking, it might be where should we write a piece or where should we put our ideas out? There’s a million different ways to get ideas out into the world and be a voice without having to be a literal voice, right?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Absolutely.

Bill Sherman And you can even, like you said in defusing some of that tension, stress and fear for the performance review of the hey, where would you go to speak or to write? What audience should we speak to share an idea that we’re not talking to you? I’d love to hear your ideas as the employee. Come with a list and let’s brainstorm. Right? Because that goes back to that whole we can’t all be active in every community. You’re probably going to be surprised when that person comes with a list of here are places we could be talking that were not. And that goes back to your story of the executive is like, Who’s Tyler Perry? Yeah, you kind of missed the boat on that one, but that person wasn’t on your radar. So. You couldn’t see the opportunity. It’s the same thing here. If you’re not part of the community, if you’re not aware of the conversations that are going on. You’re never going to think to engage there.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton And I can picture right now someone who works in engineering listening to this saying, but I don’t work in comms like I’m not a comms person, right. I’m not quite right. And it’s like, that’s what makes you even more of an asset, because as an engineer, the cos people don’t think like you think. And so if you have places that you frequent that the people don’t frequent, and you put together a list of ideas and say, hey, Watchmen, I know I’m not in comms, but based on the industry and the trades and that that I think we should picture there, nobody’s going to beat you up about that, right? That unique voice and that unique lens again is what makes it an asset. And so don’t let the function that you work in stop you from bringing forth ideas. Because again, it may not be how the other functions are looking at the space, and that would be an asset to them.

Bill Sherman Absolutely. I love that you called that out because, for example, the you might have an engineer who’s online with a community of engineers who are, you know, it’s a board or something like that, that they’re just sharing technical information back and forth about. But it’s of hardware. Engineers come together, as anybody thought, fucking engineer to engineer rather than through a comms channel. Right. And the people in comms probably don’t spend their evenings on in that community. You don’t hear the conversation.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Absolutely. And if you are able to conquer that space, what does that mean for attraction of new talent for your organization? Right. If they know that you care enough to spend face time with them, or to invest time with them, or to talk directly to them when nobody else typically is, that does a lot for your pipeline.

Bill Sherman Exactly. And so we’ve touched on three stage. It’s really the talent attraction, talent retention and succession plan. Right. If you want to have the healthy talent pipeline, if you want people who are ready to step into opportunities when leadership says we’re going to go this way, you’d much rather have a pipeline of people who understand the culture, who understand the business, rather than they have to say, we can’t do that because we don’t have the people, or we have to go find people who can do this.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Absolutely. Or we don’t even know who to tap on. We might think we don’t have the people, but we do it just never quite right.

Bill Sherman Right.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton You.

Bill Sherman And that goes back to do you see your people or not? And I think in many ways it begins with carving out that time to understand what each of your team brings to the team and where their passions are.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton And I know that depending on the size of organization that you work in, it may be overwhelming to try to get to know everybody. And you don’t have to get to know everybody. Right? Again, back to what you were talking about. Delegation, right? There are people who know people who know people. So figure out what works best for you, knowing that not getting to know people is not an option, right? You have to get to know people. But what ways are the most efficient, the most effective? Can you have your direct reports give you reports on their direct reports? Are there ways that you can do smaller, more intimate gatherings where you get to have conversation break bread with people? That’s not necessarily tied to the business. It’s tied to getting to know and humanizing the corporate experience or the work experience. How do you get to know and also let people get to know, like, and trust you and not you just being that far away person on the stage that they only see at town hall meetings. Right. It’s a clear kinship. And so that when you tell when you say watch and I see you, I trust what you’re saying. I don’t feel like it’s just like, like fluff that you’re using to kind of, you know, to play games. Yeah. Because we’ve already we’ve met before.

Bill Sherman Well, there’s a trivial way of that fake authenticity of I see you versus being present and listening. And it’s one of the reasons why I think from a leadership perspective, emotional intelligence becomes essential for practicing thought leadership and nurturing leadership, among others. You’ve got to be able to understand the place your people and your audience are in, and you’ve got to be able, as we said, check the ego at the door.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton And you know what the worst thing is? And I’ve seen this, and I won’t give the examples that I’m picking up and we’re talking about, well, there’s nothing worse than being a thought leader on stage, giving advice. And the people who actually work for you are rolling their eyes, right? You don’t practice what you preach internally, right? So you are this wisdom business, but the way that you conduct business inside the walls of your organization are like, he doesn’t follow that advice or she doesn’t do that. Right. So you want to make sure that you are practicing what you’re preaching when you are in these thought leadership spaces, and that if you’re talking to people about succession planning and grooming and, and opportunities and retention and all of those things, whatever you’re talking about, that you are also doing that work inside the walls of your organization with the actual people who make it possible for you to sit in those seats on those stages.

Bill Sherman Yeah. Your thought leadership work personally, let alone the voice of the organization, needs to come from a place of authenticity because it’s a component, a brand. If the brand promise doesn’t live up to the reality, people are going to, as you said, roll their eyes, walk away, or just grumble and say, that’s not worth it anymore.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Mhm mhm. And there’s nothing you can do to change that. But if you do it right your employees become your, your best brand ambassadors.

Bill Sherman Oh absolutely. You know they can reach. Yeah. They will reach audiences, friends, family communities and be advocates for you rather than you having to rely on classic and more expensive marketing. If you can’t persuade your in-house team who should be aligned with seeing the organization being successful and wanting it to succeed. If you can’t sell the vision and the idea to them, you got a problem.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yeah. You should be a thought leader internally before you go externally. He’s seen as a thought leader internally first.

Bill Sherman So as we transition here, I want to ask you a question. How did you get into the world of thought leadership?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton I think I was Volun told I don’t think it’s something that I, that I pursued.

Bill Sherman Please share the story.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton But so I, I often found myself being a first and only. And so a lot of the roles that I’ve had before, whether I’m the only black person or I’m the only woman, or before I started my company, I was the youngest person to ever have the role. And so I delivered consistently on work. I, you know, education wise, I’ve gotten some of the best education that’s possible, but I feel like experience matters more. I’ve also been in lots and lots of therapy, so my self-awareness is pretty, pretty high up there. And so when we came to opportunities, I’ll talk more specifically about when I was at the WNBA team here in Chicago. They knew that.

Bill Sherman Chicago Sky, right?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Yes. And we were champions of the WNBA. Uh, I think it was a 2021.

Bill Sherman But yeah, but, uh, Las Vegas Aces in the sky. It had a little bit of a rivalry.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton So this we can edit this out if we need to. I was at the game where the rivalry started and I. Awesome. I was sitting behind where her foot did go out of bounds with the ref, didn’t call it and she hit the three and we lost. And since then.

Bill Sherman I’ve been like, oh.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Vegas! Uh, but you know what? I feel like women’s sports needs that, right? We need to.

Bill Sherman Have great.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Energy that that rivalry kind of awaken in the fan bases. But I love it. But so in my space, you know, sports, the male dominated industry, I knew a lot about business. So when it was time to talk about the business of basketball or telling all those things, I could talk about that. And so that’s where they saw my boss saw in me what I didn’t necessarily see in myself at that time, but I also knew my lane. So if somebody was asking the commerce, they wanted to have a conversation about who we were recruiting the next season.

Bill Sherman Mhm, mhm.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton I don’t know anything about that. Like that’s not, that’s right. I would defer that to somebody who maybe was a little bit more junior on my staff, but who live and breathe the basketball. That’s not me. I live and breathe business. I can talk to you about, you know, partnerships I can talk to about marketing and talk to you about talent. But who the point guard is, who’s going to me, you know. But again, it’s the self-awareness that goes, okay, I don’t need to be the person who does everything. I need to make sure that there are enough people on my team, just like a basketball team, people in different positions who could do different things. But essentially it was there was a need. I was the highest ranking woman on the team, um, at the time. And so our CEO, who also did not love the spotlight at all, like, oh, he did not want to be on it. That’s just wasn’t his thing. And so he put me in position to be able to speak on the things that he knew I was an expert on.

Bill Sherman So it sounds like a combination. You use the term, I’m told, but I think it sounds like you could also use you had leaders who consciously chose to spotlight shine the spotlight on you.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Absolutely, absolutely. And I think for him, for Adam, that who who’s the CEO of the Sky. He’s very well aware of like his strengths and where he feels like he’s earned the right to be and not be in this season in his career. And he’s been doing it for a long time. He was the face for a long time. He didn’t want to do that anymore. He didn’t want to be the person putting on the suit and doing all these things just like, hey, let’s I want to run the team. I want to run the business. I want to do what I was hired to do. And so he put people in place who could fill in the spots where he no longer desired to fill.

Bill Sherman That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing that watching. And I want to ask you one last question here, okay. And this is one that I want you to think for a moment, okay. Who’s work in your field is one that more people should be aware of. Who should more people be following because of their level of insights?

Watchen Nyanue Hampton So I would say Luvvie Ajayi Jones, she does commentary on oh and also Brittany. But Brittany is more political. But Luvvie talks about culture a ton and how we create more inclusive cultures, how we create healthier cultures, how we communicate with each other, how we relate as humans. And so if you have not heard of lovage, I don’t. Even though she’s a four times New York Times bestseller, you should definitely check her out. I think her work and how she approaches just working and people in general. One of the things that I talk about all the time with, like humanizing the corporate experience, and I think she does that on a cultural level. She’s a I call her culture commentator. But Luvvie Jones is someone that I definitely think that is worth putting on your radar if she’s not already there.

Bill Sherman Fantastic watching. Thank you very much for joining us today. This has been a great conversation about shining the spotlight, thinking about growing talent and retaining talent.

Watchen Nyanue Hampton Thank you so much having me, Bill.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website. and choose ‘join our newsletter’. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.