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Three Layers of Thought Leadership

Org TL Minute: Episode 40


When I review a client’s thought leadership assets, I often use a geology metaphor. I sort the ideas, assets, and offerings into three categories. Bedrock, clay, and sand.

Now, before I explain the framework, let me be clear. There’s a need for all three in thought leadership. Bedrock isn’t better than clay or sand. They each have their use and purpose. So, grab a geologist’s pick hammer and join me as we explore the geology of thought leadership.


Bedrock thought leadership is solid and stable. It’s comprised of your most fundamental principles, values, and insights. Bedrock thought leadership stands the test of time. It’s essentially immutable. Your bedrock thought leadership shouldn’t be influenced by faddish concepts or current events.


Next, let’s look at clay. These are principles that can be shaped to fit the context – a certain industry,  a geography, a target audience. The clay rests upon bedrock principles, but it’s more pliable. You can shape it to make a specific point to your audience.


Lastly, we move up the sedimentary scale and come to the surface of your content. Some of your content will wash in and out like the sand during the tide. References to social patterns and current events are flotsam and jetsam. They help your audience connect, but they quickly wash away.

When I review a client’s thought leadership assets, I’m looking at the ratio of bedrock, clay, and sand. Some clients have wonderful bedrock thought leadership, but they can’t capture their audience’s attention and interest, because they lack clay and sand. Other thought leadership practitioners have tons of sand and clay, but they have not yet dug down to bedrock.

Take a look at the sedimentary layers of your own thought leadership. What’s your mix of bedrock, clay, and sand?

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And if you need help scaling organizational thought leadership, contact Thought Leadership Leverage!