Posts Taged thought-leaders

What Does it Mean to be a Thought Leader?

Thought Leader Word Cloud


As you may (or may not) have noticed, A.wordsmith has recently changed it’s descriptive title from “a boutique PR and marketing firm” to “a boutique PR and thought leadership firm.” Likewise, you may be thinking, “What exactly does that mean?” Well, I’m here to tell you.

Marketing for the sake of sales

By definition, marketing involves communicating the value of a product or service for the sake of promoting its sale. It is a tactic used by many businesses to procure monetary and economic reward. Don’t get me wrong – part of what we do at A.wordsmith does involve implementing programs for our clients with the aim of boosting their sales. But the main focus of Public Relations is not to help our clients “get rich quick” because that would be a less-than-sincere goal. What we really care about is exactly what “Public Relations” sounds like – helping our clients build strong relationships with and within the community so that they might have the opportunity to properly showcase the quality of their products/services and grow as the healthy companies/organizations that they already are.

Trust in a thought leader

Now, on the other hand, here’s what a thought leader is: an informed and well-trusted opinion leader who inspires people with innovative ideas and turns these ideas into reality. Note that they key words here are “informed” and “well-trusted.” When a business knows a great deal about its field and can answer any and all of its public’s questions, trust and respect is what results. And following its establishment of trustworthy expertise with its customers, it is able to thrive. Even Forbes agrees.

It’s easy to see that, when comparing marketing and thought leadership, marketing fails to build relational trust and respect where thought leadership excels at it. I guess you could boil it all down to a matter of sustainability – marketing seems to be an unsustainable tactic because it focuses on immediate and short-term effects, whereas thought leadership is very sustainable because it prioritizes creating and maintaining relationships rather than selling products. This is not to say that thought leadership doesn’t help clients’ profitability, because often it can and does. But the difference is that any  increased profitability resulting from thought leadership is the byproduct of something much more substantial: the public’s trust and respect for the company/organization itself.

In short, we here at A.wordsmith have changed the way we describe ourselves because we want the public to know that we strive to help our clients improve quality first, and quantity second. Hence why we have made it a point to re-identify as a thought leadership, rather than marketing, firm.

Become a Meeting Master


Keep meetings productive with these tips

How many hours would you say you spend in meetings in an average week? Do you feel they are hours effectively spent? Are your meetings (mostly) productive?

Team meetings are essential, but we can all admit we’ve had to sit through a few terrible time-wasters. 99U gathered some interesting ideas from a few top Silicon Valley CEOs (full article here), about how to keep meetings productive, efficient, and meaningful. A few highlights:

Get to the heart of the matter

For Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, “assumptions have no place in meetings, and if you’re not ready to back up your claims, you’re not ready to present your ideas.” According to Business Insider:
“A designer or a top product manager would sit down and Mayer would assault them with a series of questions:
‘How was that researched?’
‘What was the research methodology?’
‘How did you back that up?'”

Assuming the unanswered kinks will “work themselves out” down the road can backfire, big-time. Asking detailed questions up front may result in quicker positive outcomes (and fewer follow-up meetings!).

Real components – not comparisons

This ties into the no-assumptions-allowed principle. Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk runs his meetings with “first principles thinking.” An example of this would be: “when Musk was estimating the cost of building the first SpaceX rockets, he could have simply used comparable products on the market as a benchmark. Making decisions using ‘common knowledge’ is the antithesis of first principles thinking. Instead, his team analyzed the necessary parts of a rocket, then researched the prices of the raw materials of parts firsthand. As a result, the SpaceX team was surprised to learn that they could build a rocket that cost ‘around two percent of the typical price.'”

This approach means no quick and lazy comparisons: make sure you’re starting from facts, not just familiarity with “what the other guy is doing.” It’s another tactic that will reduce the number of times everyone must return to the table to redefine scope.

Keep it small

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was a stickler for small meetings, made up of only essential players. “He wanted people to be working, not passively sitting in a boardroom. If people didn’t have a lot to contribute, they’re better off spending time somewhere else.” I know I’ve acted as more of a spectator in a few meetings and thought, “I probably could have skipped this and gotten the minutes via email.”

Read the full article for some other great insights into how to keep your meetings lean and mean. Work smart!