I’ve been in the world of thought leadership for almost twenty years. And there’s a myth that the best ideas in thought leadership somehow will be guaranteed to reach scale. And that’s simply not true.
We assume that the marketplace of ideas is efficient. That the best ideas will win. But that’s not the case. I’ve seen many brilliant ideas struggle to get attention and soon become forgotten. While average ideas, somehow, some of them seem to catch fire and spread everywhere.
Ideas need to be sold to the listener even if no money exchanges hands.
You need to persuade your listener that your idea is worth their time, attention, and ultimately their effort. Ideas that reach scale build a movement. And it starts with an early initial advocate. This person usually has a spark in their eye when they talk about the idea. Very similar to a grandparent showing the photos of their first grandchild.
But, it’s hard for one person to change the world on their own. That early advocate needs help. Maybe within an organization, the marketing team steps up to help spread the word. Or maybe people, who hear the message early on agree to pitch in and spread the word themselves.
I’ve spoken with many thought leadership practitioners. And some of them have told me they’ve spent almost their entire career —sometimes twenty years—working to spread one big idea. And most of that time, they focused on recruiting others to help spread the message for them. Your big idea won’t change the world on its own. You need to be ready to actively champion it and recruit others to a movement.
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