Posts Taged beyonce

How are you a thought leader? Answer these 6 questions to find out.

If you are reading this you likely already understand the value of thought leadership products. A thought leadership product is anything – written, video, multi-media – produced to help inform an audience on something you do really well. These products are especially critical for service organizations that rely on the smarts and unique capabilities of its people to distinguish itself from the competition. And these are the kinds of products that A.wordsmith is really, really good at creating.

As developers of thought leadership content for our clients we are often faced with the daunting task of distilling the fragmented, but brilliant, thinking of our clients into easy-to-read, easy-to-understand thought leadership content.

To do that, we get on the phone or sit down with our subject matter expert, the SME. We typically have an hour or less. The SME is a senior-level, sometimes C-suite level, individual, with limited time and patience. Add to that the fact that we often come into these discovery sessions with only a rudimentary understanding of the topic – often just enough to be dangerous.

So how do we approach a critical SME interview given these challenges? We formulate really smart questions.

To get there, let’s go back to the importance of story.


This week my colleague Allison and I attended PRSA’s annual Communicators Conference in Portland. The speakers were excellent – everyone from Mike Riley Research to representatives from Edelman breaking down this year’s Trust Barometer – but my favorite session came from consultant Andrew Robinson of Eugene, Oregon. He advocated for the power of a single story in employee engagement, and outlined the basic elements of a captivating company story.

Andrew’s story elements interestingly aligned almost directly with the initial questions we ask during a thought leadership discovery session. The output of these discovery sessions are ultimately stories, powerfully effective in everything from driving sales to employee engagement. And powerfully relevant — just as Lemonade is to the Beyhive and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is to my kindergartener — in sparking a conversation and prompting action from the audience you most want to engage.

Beyoncé's latest thought leadership product was a multi-media blend of poetry, music and photography. (source:

As developers of thought leadership content these questions guide our process. For organizations struggling with what their thought leadership focus should be, these questions can help pinpoint your greatest opportunities to share and engage.

6 Thought Leadership Questions

Story Element: Villain

Interview Question #1: What are your client’s pain points?

Story Element: Hero

Interview Question #2: How are you specially equipped to solve those problems?

Story Element: Backstory

Interview Question #3: What are the external – market, industry, etc. – exacerbating this problem?

Story Element: Plot

Interview Question #4: What is the common turning point for your clients, the moment that they decide to turn to you for help?

Story Element: Crisis

Interview Question #5: What does it look like when you attack this problem? What is your unique process?

Story Element: Resolution

Interview Question #6: What are the proof points that what you do works?

For more information check out some of our thought leadership work.

I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.


Yet again, Beyonce is awesome.

And so is Condoleezza Rice, Jennifer Garner and a handful of other female and male celebrities contributing to the Ban Bossy campaign, a partnership between the Lean In and Girl Scouts organizations, which launched today.

As the mother of two boys (soon to be three) I’ve always felt very comfortable encouraging my sons to be leaders and to take charge in groups of other kids. Seen as a positive leadership trait among boys, I cringe when little girls taking on the same roles are labeled as bossy. Labeling a little girl as bossy is akin to telling her to be quiet, to fall in line, and according to the Ban Bossy campaign, is demotivating and damaging to confidence.

Sheryl Sandberg made the media rounds securing excellent coverage timed to today’s launch in every major US news outlet, from TIME Magazine to US Weekly. And of course the marketing materials behind this campaign are brilliant and designed to enable and ensure its collateral go viral.

Banning the word “bossy” is perhaps an oversimplified solution to the bigger problem — a lack of understanding around how to develop female leaders at the earliest age — but it’s a great start.

Check out this great campaign’s website ( for inspirational videos, stories, images and tips for encouraging female leadership at any age.

ban bossy

ban bossy

ban bossy

Grant Leaves Grammys Early–A Media Sin?

Natalie Grant Grammy

Christian music star Natalie Grant caused a media stir Sunday night when she left the Grammys early. Grant never cited the particular reason she left on, but media outlets were keen to guess. Many suspected it had to do with several risqué performances including Jay-Z and Beyonce’s sexy “Drunk in Love” duet, and Katy Perry’s “satanic” pole-dancing witchcraft-inspired number.


Viewers raised eyebrows at the night’s events, with former Alabama football player, AJ McCarron citing them to be “really demonic.” But despite the speculations, in a tweet, Grant never actually said why she left, only that she did:

“We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.”

This whole Natalie Grant Grammy storyline sparked my interest when  several near-angry sounding posts popped up on my own Facebook feed about Grant’s decision to exercise what I see as her basic human rights, regardless of circumstance or religious alliance. Some even questioned why she bothered to go to the awards show in the first place.

To me, the situation doesn’t have to be complicated: A person was uncomfortable for some reason (and any reason is valid), and that person removed themselves (took care of themselves). We’ve all been in places where we suddenly realize it’s time to leave, and rarely are those spur-of-the-moment exits planned. Generally people don’t go to an event hoping to feel uncomfortable enough to take off early. I think the fact that Grant is a Christian musician makes her an easy target here for assumptions, but even if she did leave because of Perry’s satanic routine, I would hope it’s okay for her to do that, in the same way it would be understandable for a Satanist to want to leave the Dove awards. Just saying.

She later posted to Facebook:

“I NEVER said I left during any particular performance. I only said I left early. I never pointed out any one particular performance, I only said I had many thoughts about the entire show, which were best left inside my head and that is where they will stay. So those who say I condemned one performance but then condoned others clearly did not read the post.”

Whichever way you side on Grant’s decision, all of this has provided her with enhanced visibility, especially since she didn’t go home with a Grammy. And perhaps in her case, some exposure is better than no exposure, especially when this Natalie Grant Grammy scandal seems to be providing her with an outlet to state her beliefs and her purpose for being an artist.

How Beyonce is Changing Music Promotion

Music Promotion

Last night Beyonce and Jay-Z put on a show. The photos and video are exploding over social media, traditional media is in awe, and everyone and their grandma is rushing to download B’s latest album thanks to this unofficial music promotion. Oh yeah, and the performance was during the Grammys where a bunch of other artists tried to out-twerk each other with crazy stage displays and pyrotechnics and mock humility. But who cares about them because BEYONCE.

Music Promotion

How Star Power Drives Music Promotion

Beyonce is single-handedly changing pop music promotion, with management groups scrambling to figure out what’s what. With absolutely zero promotion (though she did tour earlier in the year, never acknowledging an album was in the works) Beyonce dropped an album on iTunes in the middle of the night to huge retail success and critical acclaim. Compare that to recent albums released by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, which posted disappointing sales numbers despite massive marketing spends.

The diversification of media means that no one industry power has the leverage to guarantee that a record gets huge no matter how much money a company sinks into marketing it. In response, promoters are trying anything, and the more risqué the better. Poor Miley — she’s been relegated to nothing more than a tired joke and doesn’t even have the record sales to help her sleep at night.

Patrick Coffee of PRNewser put it best today when he wrote

“Basically, if you want to be huge in the music world you have two options: 1) be risqué 2) be Beyonce.”

I choose Beyonce.