Usually what happens inside an organization is that a group of people from different departments get together to discuss topics for thought leadership materials. The biggest concession made to the marketing or public affairs group is to tie those into existing messages as put forth in campaigns and brand promises.
I've been thinking about a better way when I came across Five Ways to Make Yourself a Workplace Superstar from Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk. Her five ways (in bold) and some of my notes about them:
- Have gaps in your resume -- I'm with Trunk on this one. Do take the time to think differently about yourself; experiment by taking on short term projects that stretch you. Gaps are opportunities for you to be in charge of your career, seek out new ventures and work on your terms. Plus, they can give you the chance to recalibrate your personal brand.
- Cut corners at work to make time for the gym -- it means find that mind-body balance by creating an exercise program that works for you. In The Power of Full Engagement, authors and consultants Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz write about the pulse of high performance being a balance of stress and recovery. They translate energy as the capacity to do work -- the spaces are as valuable as the activity.
- Start a side business -- Len Hernstein is the brain thrust behind Brand ManageCamp, where Greg Verdino will be speaking about Empowered Consumers, Emerging Media and Marketing's New Rules on September 26 (Wednesday). He started his business while working at Campbell Soup and was able to get the business off the ground while working as brand manager. If he could do it for two years, you can too.
- Turn down promotions -- there's something incredibly interesting about corporate America. Often people get promoted from superstar as individual technical contributor to manager. Thus the saying that one gets promoted to their level of incompetence. It takes very different skill sets to become a manager and frankly one must really want to do it to be good. Trunk makes a great point here -- who's in charge of your path?
- Start a blog -- starting a blog is the equivalent of letting people into the way you process information and form opinions; it's a way to see if you exercise critical thinking and flex your writing muscle articulating on topics of your choosing. This is part ideas lab -- the place where I test concepts to see for myself if they hold water. Sometimes I do not know exactly what I'm thinking until I commit it to writing and invite others to poke holes into it. The process is so transparent that it cannot be easily faked. It's also a way to let others inform our thinking without having specific agendas -- on a peer to peer level, with peer being defined as interested person/thinker. This is a very different process from the one we encounter in corporate America, where the person's title may be the driver in decision making.
So are blogs the new thought leadership?
[learding by inspiration, Sitar Ruparelia, Flickr]