How AI will affect the future of thought leadership.
An interview with Spencer Ante about the history of thought leadership and how AI could be used in the future.
How does the world of thought leadership intersect with the growing technology of AI?
A lot of news stories lately have focused on the use of AI “bots” to answer questions, generate images, or create entire dissertations on a topic.
As the technology grows closer and closer to replicating actual human thinking, we have to ask, “How will AI be used in thought leadership?”
To help better understand the field we are joined by Spencer Ante. Spencer has a background in business journalism, investigative reporting and was most recently the Head of Insights at Meta.
We begin the discussion by looking back at the origins of thought leadership which has been around far longer than most people assume. Spencer lays out the three phases of thought leadership he has seen from company blogs in the early days of the internet, to more sophisticated uses blending owned content with earned, paid, and social media.
The through threads of all of these are honesty and trust. Spencer explains why these aspects are the foundation of good thought leadership and how you risk your reputation when your thought leadership leans into the realms of product marketing or sales enablement.
As for the future of AI, Spencer share how machine learning works – that it requires humans to feed it datasets and that humans will play a key role in that learning for decades to come, working to ensure that the information it is fed is factual and verified. As AI continues to learn it will still lack concepts such as empathy, creativity and the ability to generate original ideas, the ability to connect ideas that are not obviously related remains a human quality. This means AI will serve as a great tool for thought leaders to streamline content creation, having a great new source for communication, research and marketing.
This is a great conversation on a topic that is going to be relevant for many years to come.
Three Key Takeaways:
- The need and dependance on thought leadership will continue to grow, as trust in media and governments dwindles with an expanding world.
- When creating thought leadership, lead with the problem your product solves, and not the product itself. That’s how you generate an audience.
- AI is clever, but it’s not innovative or insightful. Thought leaders need to realize that while AI can be of use, it’s their insights and experience that will really change the game.
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!
Bill Sherman Generative A.I. has all the buzz today, but what does it mean for thought leadership? I want to explore how thought leadership would need to evolve or change with these news tools. But in order to figure out where the road ahead leads, we first need to take a step backwards and look at where the field has been. So to help me investigate these questions, I invited Spencer Ante to join me. Most recently, Spencer was the head of Insights at Meta and he has a background in business, journalism and investigative reporting. In today’s conversation, we explore the evolution of thought leadership and where it might be headed next, including the human A.I. relationships and thought leadership.
Bill Sherman I’m Bill Sherman. And you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show, Spencer.
Spencer Ante Thank you, Bill. Great to be here.
Bill Sherman So I’m excited to talk about thought leadership with you. And I want to start with a look into the past. How did thought leadership get to where we are today?
Spencer Ante Yeah, it’s a very interesting evolution. I think if you if you take a step back, you know, it wasn’t that long ago that companies depended on a relatively small number of media organizations to tell their story. Mostly it was newspapers, TV stations, then later on cable TV stations, because they owned the means of distribution and the connections with audiences. Companies could also obviously use advertising, but ads looked like ads, and they were not very trusted by people. And there were also actually very early crude examples of what would be called content marketing. You remember those like old inserts in or supplements in magazines that were usually.
Bill Sherman That they were like little mini booklets, right?
Spencer Ante Yeah. Yeah, It was like usually like the Chamber of Commerce of Kazakhstan or some foreign country you would like buy it to, like, promote trade in their country. And they were marked clearly as advertisements. That was actually content marketing. But it was it was clearly not very sophisticated. Okay. So fast forward, the Internet comes along in like the mid mid-nineties and the Web, and it just exploded the entire old media model and it gave companies for the first time the means to communicate directly with stakeholders in a modern and sophisticated way. And I don’t think we can underestimate that. That is still like the big bang of the Internet. So at the same time, the Internet was taking off. Companies began experimenting with blogs and starting to tell their own stories. The old media business model began to come under pressure, right, because classified ads were being disrupted by Craigslist and then Google and basically all the old like sources of revenue for traditional media began to be taken away. So the result of that was like a shrinking journalism industry for the last 20 years. And I just looked at it like the pure numbers. Newsroom employment in the U.S. has dropped 26% since 2008, right? So that meant the number of journalists that could cover the news and developments of your company content was ever shrinking. Right. And this is especially impactful for companies that had weak brands or were not like Fortune 1000 companies. So the obvious conclusion of this that many people reached was every company needs to become their own media company. Right. And start to really start controlling their own narrative and telling their own story. Otherwise, they’re going to lose the ability to influence or shape their corporate reputation.
Bill Sherman And I think you can add to that that you could no longer trust a scattershot deployment sort of thing and hope that if you went in the right magazines or the right newspapers, you’d be seen, right? So you had to be willing to say, how are we going to reach our audience? Because that responsibility falls on us.
Spencer Ante 100%. Now, I think there’s been three distinct phases of what I would call modern thought leadership since the Internet came on the scene. And this is the way I look at it, and this is coming from the point of view of someone who has worked as a former. I worked in journalism for a long time at places like the Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. So I’ve seen the evolution of the media in terms of the Internet and then leaving journalism, going into communications marketing, working at like big agencies like Edelman and work, etc., and companies like Marriott. So I said we saw the emergence of company blogs. That was like the first phase of what people now call “owned content,” right? Companies were telling their stories for the first time on the Internet, like and you had websites like G.E. Reports or Microsoft stories, Right. And this trend was accelerated with the emergence of social media in like 2005 to 2015. Right. Because all of a sudden, you can use the Internet to not only tell your story, but then distribute it through social media to get in front of the right people because everyone was on social media. So that was like the first phase. Then what we saw was, you know, even though there was an infatuation with blogs like corporate executives in particular, still wanted to, cared about the old media, they cared about getting like the article in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Businessweek. So I think there was a like under the second phase, which was how do we use thought leadership in old content to drive earned media? Right. And I think there was a lot of innovation around that. Like when I was at Edelman, the best example this was REI, developed the “opt out campaign.” Right. They created an entire integrated omni channel media strategy to get out the idea that they were not going to sell stuff on Black Friday and they were going to tell people to go outside and experience nature. That was a massive success. Right. Right. And they used a lot of owned content to tell that story and to drive the earned media and it like brilliantly. So I think that was the second phase. Now, the third phase, which I think started happening around 2015 or so, was when companies were like, okay, this old content thing is working its I’m getting I’m reaching people. I’m starting to like actually influence placement in our media, but what about my business? So the third phase was figuring out how to use content and thought leadership to actually drive a business in terms of lead generation or revenue attribution. And so you started seeing companies experiment more with paid media to drive own content in sort of customers and other stakeholders who influence decision making. And you have things like a based marketing or performance marketing, and that’s been a big new trend and it still continues today.
Bill Sherman And with that, too, the connection to outcomes and metrics. I think you can argue certainly that there’s a talent component as well of who are you attracting to work for you because of your employer brand based on thought leadership as well as are you growing and retaining people as well? Right. So of the people who are looking at the brand and saying, I’m smart, I know my area, do I want to be there? Right. That’s another side of the business as well as the lead gen demand gen side of.
Spencer Ante But yeah, it’s the these fields are becoming increasingly technical and so like it’s almost like they’re different like little industries because the people that you need to develop on the, on contact the people that you need to create the, the paid media strategy are actually different people, but they need to work together. So that’s a lot of. The magic or the tricky part of modern thought leadership is figuring out the integration of all these different elements between earned, owned hate and social. Because if you don’t connect the dots between these things, you’re not going to like maximizer your effectiveness or your impact. And so there’s a lot of attention that’s focused on not only cultivating and hiring the talent to develop these different aspects of the thought leadership ecosystem, but then there’s also a great emphasis on like figuring out how to get these people that work together. And it’s not easy all the time.
Bill Sherman So even from that history, which I like, by the way, in terms of framing, one of the things that stands out is thought leadership is not a fad of the last couple of years, because I know a lot of people who have sort of looked and said, okay, thought leadership is that’s just a new term for content marketing. The answer that I would say is no, it’s been around 20 plus years from a business strategy, but it’s evolved and grown based on the times and the technology.
Spencer Ante I could not agree more. And I believe that the role of thought leadership in communications and marketing will only continue to grow. And I think there’s a few reasons for that. To take a step back and think about Virsec. And these are like underlying, like cultural and social trends that are fueling the growth of this industry. And I think at the top, the list I would put is there’s declining trust in institutions like the media and government, right? So I looked at the latest data from the Edelman Trust Barometer, which is a great piece of research, and they basically concluded that this lack of faith in societal institutions, which is triggered by things like economic anxiety, disinformation, failures of leadership, it’s basically got us to this point where business actually is the only institution that is seen as competent and ethical, whereas government and media are seen as fueling a cycle of distrust. Right now, I would ask you this according to this data, do you know what the three most trusted sources of information are?
Bill Sherman Why don’t you tell me.
Spencer Ante The top three? Number one: scientists.
Bill Sherman Yep.
Spencer Ante Like experts. Number two, your own coworkers. And number three, the CEO of your own company. Not all CEOs, but the CEO of your own company. So that’s really interesting, because the implication of that is that society wants business to do more about social and economic issues, to lead more, as opposed to like where government would lead in the past or NGOs in the past. And the way they do that is through putting forward people like the experts, the scientists, the coworkers, the executives of the company. These are the messengers of the thought leadership. These are the people that will carry your story, that will be the ambassador for your company. And so that’s a major trend that I think will continue to help fuel the growth of thought leadership.
Bill Sherman So let’s stay on coworkers for a minute here, because I think there’s a couple different layers on this. One, there’s a space in a room, especially in large organizations, for thought leadership across the organization. So who is their trusted coworker that can speak up and others will listen and go, Oh, we’ve heard from them before. We trust them. Right. But also then I think from a coworker perspective, if we were to play with the term just a little bit, if you’re going to market the people that are client facing or customer facing and that have built relationships with a buyer, they’re more likely to be trusted if they’re investing in those relationships. And you mentioned that before in terms of account based marketing and relationship sales, right? So the concept of coworker, I think is good. And certainly you need people who are experts inside the organization to be able to communicate an idea to their peers and colleagues within the organization. But if we stretch that concept of coworker a little bit further and say, okay, how about the people who are doing sales to clients and customers, those who are working on a customer success team, all of those people are building relationships with clients and customers and people are going to trust people that they can look in the eye a little bit and say, I hear you. I see where you’re coming from.
Spencer Ante Yeah, no, it’s a really good point. I think the idea of the coworker is that’s a that can cover a lot of different kinds of people. I think what’s interesting is that it’s often the people in the middle of a company that are the most trusted. It’s not it doesn’t necessarily need to be the CEO of the company. It. It’s usually like the SVP or the VP that actually knows that what they’re the space that they’re in really well, they could communicate the nuance and the detail of that to whatever the stakeholder is. So as if you’re doing thought leadership. I would encourage you to not only focus on the leadership team, but actually like a level or two below the leadership team and find the people that are have great like personalities and charisma as well as expertise and like take advantage of those people.
Bill Sherman Well, and we were talking about sort of trends. I would say that’s one of the shifts from because early on thought leadership was the domain of executive communications, right. That it’s top of the House that’s doing thought leadership. Now you’ve got to recognize that if you’re hiring smart people and, you know, people with deep expertise, put them on stage, you know, either metaphorically or literally, whether they’re speaking or writing or communicating. But let them get those ideas out there.
Spencer Ante Yeah, I think that is the way to go. And, you know, another reason you want to actually go down a level or two is because the main risk of doing one of the main risks of doing thought leadership is that the people that are delivering are not seen as like advocates for the truth or relevant information. So it’s really important when you’re doing thought leadership to differentiate it from classic product marketing ourselves enablement. That’s my personal belief because when you get into classic product marketing or sales enablement, you kind of get into an area that plays around with the truth a little bit sometimes, and then you risk your reputation of being a trusted source. And when you do like true thought leadership, it has to be as accurate as like a regular journalism article in a top tier publication would be. That’s my philosophy. Now, obviously, you’re telling a story in such a way that’s not maybe highlighting the most, you know, the biggest risk factors or issues of a company, but it’s still truthful and it’s still like giving you accurate information. And usually the truthful, accurate information comes to the people who are closest to the source.
Bill Sherman I like to phrase advocates for the truth, and that’s one that I think we could go down a rabbit hole and explore in terms of what is truth from a thought leadership perspective and what does it mean to advocate or advocate for it. Right? But I hear what you’re saying on a deeper level where if you cross the line into product marketing that sales enablement, all of a sudden it’s easy for people to ask, What’s your ulterior motive here? What are you really trying to do?
Spencer Ante Yeah, and it gets back to the real, I would say, magical thought leadership, which is it’s I always told clients or companies I work for that’s like whatever your product is like, don’t lead with the product, lead with like the problem that your product like addresses or solves. And that could be like a specific business problem or it could be like a larger societal problem because that’s what your audience says. You got to remember, like we’re trying to reach the audience, and the audience is not necessarily caring about your specific solution. Right now. They have a different set of concerns. Find out what those concerns are and then look for the intersection between their concerns and what your company does. And that’s where you get people’s attention.
Bill Sherman And there’s on a couple levels of that one, which is the problems they care about today. And then I could argue as well, I think the thought leadership may be looking around the corner and saying, here’s a challenge you’re going to deal with in a year or two years. Here’s what you need to be thinking about today. And so both of those are useful. Sometimes you have to pull people away from whatever’s on their desk today to get them to look up and say, yeah, this is going to be your nightmare six or 12 months from now. Let’s get ahead of it.
Spencer Ante Yeah, No, I 100% agree with that. You can look, when I was embedded, we had a sort of a time framework where we talked about what’s happening now, what’s next and what’s really new. And so we had different kinds of content that would address the different sort of needs of the audiences and their time horizons. Because if you’re like a chief marketing officer or CMO, you’re thinking more in the future, right? That’s right. I think strategically 3 to 5 years down the road, whereas if you’re like a VP of merchandise or marketing and some retailer, you’re thinking the next 6 to 18 months, like you’ve got to meet your numbers. So like, yeah, there’s different ways to sort of conceive the content. And we talked about like why it’s not a fad. I would point to two other things actually that I think would say this is not a fad and it’s only going to grow. One is that what we would see is like the rise of user generated content and influencers, which is a long term trend and. People are increasingly consuming content and turning to folks who are trusted individuals and experts. And these are people who could be key partners and players in the thought leadership ecosystem that you could actually, you know, work with to help tell your story, because they have allegiances and loyalties from like various, like really like specific audiences. The other thing I would say is thought leadership is cost effective and produces a good ROI. And in today’s economy, where there’s a greater emphasis on efficiency, you know, that’s going to be increasingly important. Like, you know, Super Bowl was last night. You could spend millions and millions of dollars on making the Super Bowl commercial and buying it, and that’s great. And there’s a few of them that break through and people remember, but most people don’t remember most of the Super Bowl commercials. Instead, you could spend like tens or hundreds of thousands creating a content platform integrated with social paid and earn and own. And you can use that to track the reach and the engagement with the people you’re trying to communicate with and then build stickier connections with them because like the people will see the Super Bowl ad. You have no idea who they are.
Bill Sherman And you’re not going to be talking with them tomorrow at The Water Cooler.
Spencer Ante Right? You’re not. But if you like, you know, get a get an interesting, like graphic or blog post in front of like one of these people and they, like, read it. Then you have a kind of a connection with them. Maybe it’s time for your newsletter and then you’ve got like stick your relationship.
Bill Sherman One of the things that I’ll I like from that is the concept as well, the difference between what I would describe as the tentpole campaign, where it’s sort of like a summer blockbuster where you spend an insane amount of your budget on this one piece, right? Versus are you out and active in conversation on a regular basis. You mentioned influencers and UGC user generated content. And I think one of the things that sometimes you see people who are users creating content that. Why are they experts? It’s because they’re out there every day or every week talking about this. Right. And so there’s a validation by what they put out on a regular basis. And so if the brand if the organization is doing the one and done the big one advertisement of the year or something, what are you for the other 364.
Spencer Ante Yeah, it’s a it’s a really good point. And I don’t think it’s an either or situation. I think what I’ve observed and let’s see it in different situations I’ve been involved in, is you need, you need to have those like tentpole moments. You need to have like some big idea that you center your you’re around and it could be maybe two or three moments. But then what? We would also need to supplement that with what I would typically call like a steady drumbeat of like communication or contact. Because if you disappear for like three months, then you’re not like keeping the momentum going, Right? Right. Holding the relationship. So like, think of the tempo moment is like bringing literally people into the tent, right? And then like forming a relationship with them. But then you want to maintain it and grow it and build it until the next event. And then it like over time it accumulates and the tent keeps getting bigger, you know? Yeah. And that’s good for your camp or.
Bill Sherman More targeted for the people that you’re trying to reach, right? If you have a higher percentage, it may be the same size tent, but they may be more your buying audience that you’ve curated over time.
Spencer Ante Yeah, it could be like you said, you can really target these pieces of content, not in a way that you never were able to do before. So and you could see everything they do. And, you know, you can just that’s something you need to take advantage of.
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Bill Sherman So we’ve talked about some of the past and some of the present and past leadership. I want to push and go into the future and you and I have had conversations around collaborative journalism and I write and I think given what we’ve seen over the last 12 months, really on using AI to generate content it’s both fascinating. And that the question of where does it sit within the world of thought leadership. So let me ask you that question. What are you feeling? What are you seeing? And. How’s it going to change?
Spencer Ante Yeah, this is this is the big question that a lot of people are asking right now. And you mentioned the term collaborative journalism. That’s a term like I came up with when I was an adult man. And the whole idea was like, make the journalist your friend instead of your colleague. Right. Because a lot of companies have an adversarial relationship with the media, especially the bigger ones. And so it was like, make the journalist your friend instead of your foe by hiring the journalist, get inside your story. It’s the same thing I think with I make Are your friends not your foe? Now, hey, I’ve been around for a long time. It seems to be reaching a new inflection point with catchy beat and Dolly and all these, like gender, so-called gender tools and services. And, you know, if you’ve used them, you could see that like it’s they’re able to do more than they’ve ever been able to do, like I did.
Bill Sherman They’re far more than a chat bot, right?
Spencer Ante Yeah. I went in this morning and I showed my son. I’m like, What is the main theme of Animal Farm? Okay, type that in their 30 seconds later, it starts spitting out this like, very like, expertly composed paragraph. Okay, that was pretty good. But listen, the whole the whole fear of AI is that it’s going to replace humans. Now, I do think there will be certain situations where AI does actually take over some lower-level jobs of individuals in particular, that where there’s like rote or very like commoditized work. But on the whole it’s more an issue of society figuring out how to collaborate and literally supervise AI. That’s going to be the next 10 to 20 years, right? Because if you’ve ever studied, I know that all AI needs to be trained. Okay, well, who does the training? Humans lead the training. Humans tell the AI what to what to learn, what to ingest, what information to absorb. And so if you know, it’s the old computer saying garbage in, garbage out. If you put garbage into chat app or other AI, it’s going to produce garbage. And you know, there’s a lot of instances of where you put putting questions to these tools and they come back with like essays that have really key factual errors, inaccuracies. Okay.
Bill Sherman And that’s exactly something that I wanted to talk to you about, because you mentioned the concept of being an advocate for truth earlier. Right. And if you’re AI and the algorithm is working from information which is not accurate, which is not valid, it can argue incredibly persuasively for something which is flat out wrong, right. That it can create the best essay in the world or the best campaign but start from flawed premises that every human would look at and go, That’s not right.
Spencer Ante Yeah, and that’s exactly why I’m not scared of AI, to be honest with you, for the most part, because I know having worked with it and studied it, that it’s going to require human oversight and supervision for a while. Now, who knows? 30, 40, 50 years down. Right.
Bill Sherman Right.
Spencer Ante These systems do get smarter. That that is like one of the brilliant things about these neural networks in machine learning systems. They do get smarter over time. But that could take a long time. Right. You know, there was one example. I think somebody wrote an article that, like you put it like, who created the iPod? And it says, like, John Sculley created the iPod at Apple. It’s like anyone who knows Apple knows that’s not true. It came right there. So like when I was at Bloomberg, one of the dirty little secrets of working at Bloomberg, the reason they were so fast is because 60 to 70% of the articles was regurgitated information from older articles. They basically, like, copied and pasted. Like what the you know, the like, you know, in an earnings story, you would take a bunch of stuff from another story. Well, you.
Bill Sherman Knew what the template was going to be on it. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Spencer Ante Yeah. That’s like a form of automation. So like, this has been going on for a while. It’s just kind of reaching like a new level of sophistication. But still human beings need to like need to manage it. And so I think a lot of jobs are going to involve like if you look at the job description of something going forward, it’s going to say working with A.I. systems to like manage them, blah, blah, blah, you’re going to see a lot more of that.
Bill Sherman It’s going to be more similar to, you know, do you have basic word processing in spreadsheet skills? Right? Can you manage those? Can you formulate a query? Can you create a data set that’s going to allow you to answer the questions that you want to answer? Right. And so the ability to curate knowledge, I think even if we go further back, you know, I think of my father who spent most of his career as a professional librarian, and he said, You don’t have to know all the answers. You just now need to know how to find the right answers and which sources to trust. And I think that that’s the same response we could use for A.I., right? What do we feed the system? So that it has valid information. And then to how do we evaluate it?
Spencer Ante Yeah. And, you know, there are obviously technical advantages to these systems that human beings can’t replicate, right? Like, health care is a really interesting example, I think. I think I think A.I. is going to play an increasingly important role in health care, because if you’re a doctor, you need to stay on top of all the research in your field. And that’s not easy to do when you’re serving patients all the time. So like and this is this is the promise of Watson, which never really came to fruition, but right. If you could have like a medical assistant that could basically quickly tell you what the state of the art of the research is on this particular issue, you could augment human intelligence. And I think that’s what it’s going to do. It’s going to augment human intelligence, but not replace it, because you still need the idea of empathy is a really interesting thing. Like machines don’t have empathy, really. Do they have creativity? They’re getting more creative because they’re just absorbing all this information and coming up with more creative responses. But I think the realm of true creativity and original ideas will still be in the realm of humanity.
Bill Sherman So there’s a lot to be said on air. And I think this is a conversation that’s going to be going on and exploration for several years. One of the things that I’ve been kicking around is the concept of how are you building new content for thought leadership and where do you as an organization bring AI in and that it helps the workflow rather than becomes the workflow? Right. Because I think if you just hand off, Hey, write me a white paper on X topic, put that in shut GPT. You’re only going to get what’s already been said. And by definition, that’s not necessarily thought leadership.
Spencer Ante That’s a very good point. That’s what I said about the original ideas. You mean the human brain is this amazing thing that can make connections between things that are not immediately obvious that even machines can’t do? And that’s where you get innovation, actually, right? Innovation is like development of new ideas that didn’t exist before and the application of them. And that’s still, I think, going to be in the realm of humans. But the role of A.I. to me is like it’s another source, right? Absolutely. Sources of information you pull from to do thought leadership or communication or marketing. It becomes another source that you need to pay attention to and work with. But it’s not the ultimate be all answer.
Bill Sherman Yeah, I think that’s a fair summary. So as we begin to wrap up, I want to ask you a couple of questions, Spencer, because you’ve been through different roles and perspectives. You’ve been in the world of journalism. You’ve been in the world of agency, you’ve been in-house, doing research and then practicing thought leadership through those. What lessons have you learned? What are the big ahas? And the reason I ask this is and I can ask it a different way what would you advise your younger self getting into thought leadership.
Spencer Ante I’ve got to think about that for a second. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways you can come at that. I would say this wasn’t even a career like ten or 15 years ago, Right? Right now. Now it’s an industry. It’s a growing industry. And so I think I would say one thing is like you could actually look at this as a way to build a career. Now, I think the best people who practice thought leadership come out of fields that are not purely marketing because you need to, you know, have that what I call the B.S. filter that a journalist has to be really authentic and tell stories that don’t come off like a sales pitch. So, you know, plenty of it’s a great like career migration path for a lot of people who were in journalism. There’s other places you can come from, like research, analytics, insights, etc.. So I think, yeah, one, one learning I have is that this is this is actually a place, a way to build a career. The other thing I would say is and this is what makes it so interesting, I think in part is that it’s ever evolving. Yes. We talked earlier before about how just in the span of five or ten years, I went through three different phases of growth and innovation. And so if you like to as I say, it’s if you like to build things, if you like to like, experiment, this is a great field to be in. And because it’s constantly evolving and the people that are the true leaders are the ones who are figuring out the next phase of growth and innovation to stay on the cutting edge. Right. And so that that keeps it really interesting. You also like the guy thing, right?
Bill Sherman Yeah, exactly.
Spencer Ante Yeah.
Bill Sherman And I’ve been thinking about it when I go out on runs and say, okay, what are the ways that it could be used effectively and where is it going to really trip people up? Right. In terms of thought leadership, you mentioned something and I want to connect back. So you talk about journalism and the ability to ask questions within journalism and be that advocate for truth and to really elevate and sharpen an idea to get it out there. You talk about science, you talk about researchers from different fields, right? I think that’s one of the fundamental human skills that I would carries a through line from this conversation is the ability to generate good questions and then evaluate. Do I have a good answer yet? Right. And if not, where do I keep digging and poking?
Spencer Ante Yes, that is often overlooked. I think there’s two. One of the things I learned as a journalist are that how do you tell a good story? One, you got to find the right people to talk to.
Bill Sherman Right.
Spencer Ante Right. The Wall Street Journal, we call that finding the best sources, people who are in a position to actually know what actually happened. So finding the right people is number one. And then number two is what you said, which is like asking them the right questions. You can be in a room with the most interesting, smartest person in the world. If you ask them like dumb questions, you’re not really going to learn anything. Right. Their time. So figuring out what those right questions to answer ask is really critical. Then it leads to like a great story.
Bill Sherman Spencer, there’s a lot more that we could talk about, but I want to thank you for joining us. This has been great.
Spencer Ante Thank you, Bill. It’s been a real pleasure. And thank you for having me.
Bill Sherman Absolutely. 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. OrgTL.com 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.