Behind the scenes: What I didn’t say on the ‘thought leadership’ video chat

What ‘thought leadership’ actually is: relationship-building.

My gut feeling is when most people hear the term ‘thought leadership’ they roll their eyes; who wants to follow yet another person ‘building their brand’ or a company ‘trying to appeal now for a sale down the line’.

But that’s not what true, effective thought leadership is… and I had a blast sitting down (zooming down?) with Sivan and Aliza at TwoHeads to consider what it is, and why it’s worth pursuing as an individual or brand manager.

Watch our conversation here, or at the end… What I really came to do here was share my scenes notes I jotted down in prep for our video chat:

Spoiler: It’s about building trust with your audience, in an honest, human-first, true-to-self way.

It’s more organic, it’s honest, it’s staying true to your company DNA or your own brand DNA. As humans, we enjoy hearing from people who know what they’re talking about. It’s true in our industries too.

So why is building trust this way important for a company?

  1. An invitation to bond: Putting forward an honest, true depiction of your company’s values, beliefs and goals via the smart, experienced people who fuel it — and inviting your audience to join you for that ride as you navigate your industry. It is a bonding experience for thought leader and their audience to go through this together in the longer run.
  2. Nothing to hide: Showing that you/your company’s drivers offer real value because you actually know what you’re talking about; it’s not hot air, it’s actual experience and you’re sharing it openly. People are attracted to authenticity, especially from places they don’t normally access it.

Why invest resources in thought leadership?

What ‘should’ that look like?

Is it really thought leadership if your marketing team worked on it?

If you’re supporting the effort by outlining and scripting for your brand’s ’faces’ that’s certainly a way to go, but that’s not really thought leadership.

By all means — if you’re the brains behind the thought leadership program and script outlines, that’s great — make sure the face is the actual thought leader bringing their experience forward. That’s where this program’s value will come from. And yes, most people worth listening to need help with outlining, direction, staying focused. But it should be their experience and voice that comes through.

Finally — take a bat and smash the following assumptions:

  • “It’s been said before” — This can feel true a lot of the time. But it’s also about access — not everyone is seeking out what’s already been written — they want to hear from you specifically (because they already trust you), or they want to hear ‘in the now’.
  • “I don’t know how to write” — You don’t need to. You need to know how to speak with humans like yourself. It’s about communication skills, not necessarily writing skills. But there are exercises you can do to help you craft your message; take a look at this article I wrote with some tangible tips.

If you’ve got thoughts to add or want to take me up on something — get me on Twitter: @eliesheva.

For more I didn’t cover here — watch the under-30 minute chat:

Taking notes. I’m curious. Hetz Ventures. 50:50 Startups. I write insightful articles with career, marketing themes. And personal topics at

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