Want to know the secret to standing out the next time an exciting new opportunity comes around?
Become known for your thought leadership.
As you transition from corporate manager into higher level executive positions, you need to shift from trying to get ahead in your career to focusing on the message you want to be sending out into the world.
That message is your thought leadership, and it is going to allow you to branch out in a bigger, bolder than you ever have before.
That’s why I’ve invited thought leadership expert, Eva Jannotta, to join me for this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer.
Eva helps her clients position themselves as preeminent and sought-after leaders in their industries by co-developing unique, relevant, visionary thought leadership content.
Tune in as Eva and I dive into how YOU can start using thought leadership to expand your career. We also discuss several highly practical strategies you can start using today to get your thought leadership out there (even if you’re just starting out).
What You'll Learn:
- What thought leadership actually is (and what it isn’t)
- What thought leadership look likes in action
- How thought leadership will help you stand out for opportunities
- How to get comfortable sharing your ideas in a bolder way
- The role of unconscious bias in thought leadership
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Stacy Mayer: Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And in today's episode, I have a very special guest for you today who is going to talk to us about thought leadership. And I cannot wait to dive into the subject.
Eva is actually a colleague of mine in a business mastermind group that she and I both belong to with a bunch of powerhouse entrepreneurs. And I have been loving her work and following it on social media, mostly on LinkedIn, of course, my platform of choice for a while. And she has really been talking about thought leadership.
Now, if you have followed me for a while, you know that that is also something that I really believe in, especially as corporate managers get themselves into higher level executive positions, that at some point they're able to shift from trying to get ahead in their career to what is the message that they want to be sending out into the world.
So I have clients that are heads of national organizations that are members on boards. And the reason that they're able to do that is because through their experience, through their corporate leadership, they have developed a leadership style, a.k.a. a thought leadership platform, that allows them to branch out in a bigger and bolder way.
So this is a super exciting topic for me. And I know you guys are going to get so much out of it. So Eva Jannotta helps bold women leaders defy the status quo, amplify their influence, and expand their wealth and power.
She offers thought, leadership consulting and support, as well as overall communications strategy. And I couldn't be more excited to have her with you guys today.
Eva Jannotta: Hi, Stacy. Good to be here.
Stacy Mayer: Thank you so much. So why don't we just start out by defining thought leadership? So what does that mean to you personally?
Eva Jannotta: Yes. I'm glad you start with that question because there's a lot of confusion about what it is and what it isn't. And it's one of these like business-y jargon phrases that, who knows how long it'll last, how long will be called thought leadership, but the definition that I like to give is really to break down these two words.
So we have thought and we have leadership. So the first part is of it is that leadership is sharing what you think based on your unique perspective and experiences. And you're using what you think and your opinions and your insights to lead your audience in whatever they need doing. So whether that's giving them advice to help plan their businesses or excel in their careers or reach top levels of senior leadership, your using your thoughts to lead them to that point and to help them make decisions and flourish in their in their lives.
Stacy Mayer: So how does this look like, practically speaking? So the first thing that comes to mind is like a TED talk. Ideas. This idea of sharing your ideas on a bigger stage. What does it look like for people? Is it just speaking gigs? Or how does thought leadership actually bring itself into the world?
Eva Jannotta: Yeah, well, that's what's interesting about it. It can it doesn't really matter what the medium is. I recommend that the medium you choose to amplify your thought leadership is one that you like, that appeals to you. So that could be or include public speaking. It could also be podcasting. It could also be sharing videos. It could also be writing articles. And so the medium of communication, there are a lot of options to choose from. What's important is that you pick one that's a good fit for you and that you're sharing your perspective. And so it's important. I hammer hard on the sharing your perspective thing, because what thought leadership is not is.... We see a lot of content on the Internet. That's not thought leadership. Maybe it's licticles, not typically thought leadership. Really, really well known best practices are not typically thought leadership.
Stacy Mayer: I don't know what a listicle is?
Eva Jannotta: I think BuzzFeed. And those can be very entertaining and helpful. But if you're not providing your unique perspective and really giving insight and helping your followers draw some conclusions for themselves and make some decisions, then that's not quite thought leadership. Does that make sense?
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, it does. It does. That helps. And one of the pitfalls that a lot of my clients fall into. Because they're corporate executives. So they're mostly on LinkedIn and they like to use LinkedIn as a networking platform. And so then they think they want to branch into thought leadership. So they start posting a little bit more. And when I look at it, I can really tell the difference between those people who are just sharing articles, which I think that does say their point of view, but it doesn't actually turn them in to a thought leader. And it might be simply because that's not their medium of choice. Like it could be something else. Like I recommend if people like being on panels or like being around other people that have common values. Even in our Zoom world right now, there's a lot of virtual conferences happening. So in terms of corporate thought leadership, any ideas that come to mind, what that would look like specifically for a corporate leader?
Eva Jannotta: LinkedIn is a really great tool for that, and you can use articles as thought leadership. I mean, I think about somebody like Seth Godin who is known for being very, very short and succinct, but really delivering iconic, punchy ideas. And you can do that when you share an article. If you pull out a nugget and you agree with it or you disagree with it or you have a story or you have a slightly different perspective that you can offer, that is an example of really short form thought leadership.
Stacy Mayer: That is so, so helpful. I could see that. Because it's not just the act of sharing the article, it's what's your opinion? What are you pulling out of it? What do you think about it.
Eva Jannotta: Exactly? Yes, it's your commentary. And so that is a fantastic place to start for someone in corporate who's new, maybe newly in a senior leadership position or moving in that direction and the idea of writing articles is a little much. You can start by practicing articulating your ideas and get comfortable sharing what you think using other people's articles as a starting point. And it goes from there and runs the gamut all the way to... I Think about Sheryl Sandberg. Whether or not you agree with the thesis of of Lean In. She is a corporate executive and she wrote that book and she became very well known for that.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, that actually segways really great into what kind of thought leadership get you. So as a corporate executive, your you have a job, right. And, you know, it's like it's it's not the same as an entrepreneur, a world where it's going to get you clients. We're not trying to get clients as corporate executives. What are we looking to gain from using thought leadership?
Eva Jannotta: Yeah, so I think there are two answers to that question. So number one is your thought leadership platform is an asset to the company you work for. Gosh, it sure didn't hurt Facebook when Sheryl Sandberg became known for Lean In. That can really raise the profile and make your company stand out if one of its leaders is known for this really magnetic thought leadership platform or concept. So that's one side of it.
And the other side is it's really beneficial to you in your career. And I think there are a couple of elements to this. So one of them is, you know, you may not want to stay at your current company forever. You might have your sights on a different position or a different industry or what have you. And having this thought leadership platform that you're known for will really make you stand out as a candidate for other opportunities. And like you were saying at the outset, Stacey, same with opportunities to serve on boards or to give back to the community in a certain way, it really elevates your options and attracts more opportunities to you when you're known for something really dynamic.
Stacy Mayer: I actually just thought of something that I didn't even think of this before the interview. But my husband told me about this guy who was joining their team as an engineer, and he had written several articles that my husband had read on the internet before he joined his team. And he was so excited that this guy was joining his team because he knew who he was. He knew what he stood for, he knew what mattered to him. And he was like: 'Oh, we're getting him? That's great.'
Eva Jannotta: Yeah. That's a really good story and a really good example. And so, I mean, it just it just elevates you as a leader and makes you so much more attractive and recognizable for these opportunities you're seeking.
But I think, in addition, on kind of the personal development side, what's really powerful about thought leadership is the self development that it delivers to you. I mean, if you're in the habit of developing your own ideas and really improving your own thinking and challenging yourself to learn more and see things in a new way, I mean, that's just really good for yourself. Mm hmm. And in addition, building this thought leadership platform and doing that development of your ideas, that's your legacy as well. If that's a book that you write or a series of articles or a training you deliver, that's a legacy that's going to live beyond you. And that's a very powerful thing.
Stacy Mayer: I just got goosebumps. That really hits me hard.
Eva Jannotta: Me too, actually.
Stacy Mayer: Wow, that's so good. Speaking of legacy. So another thought that came to mind is that as you develop your thought leadership and you're really creating basically the ability to have influence, to have influence on society, to have influence at your organization, whenever you have influence, you can help other people. So one of my one of my mission, my mission, not one of it. My mission is to bring more diversity to the leadership table. And when we get into the leadership table and we are able to bring up other people when we have that level of influence. And so what do you think about using thought leadership and your ability to influence to then help other minorities or women or whoever else you're trying to get into other positions of power and influence?
Eva Jannotta: I mean, yes, is the answer to that question. Yes, please. More, please. So one of the reasons I say that thought leadership is such a unique opportunity is because Edelmann and LinkedIn, they've released a survey every year about kind of the state of thought leadership for business. And one of the things they found is that over 80 percent of decision makers say that thought leadership increases their respect, perception of capabilities and trust in an organization. So that speaks to how it's such an asset to your company and to you as a professional on the other side. They also find that only 17 percent of decision makers say most of the thought leadership they read is very good or excellent. So a lot of it sucks, in other words.
And what that means to me is there is this huge opportunity for people to fill that void with excellent magnetic thought leadership. And it's my conviction that that opening, that space, is meant for women and people of color and other marginalized groups. Because the business case for diversity is just... It's embarrassing at this point. There's no there's no denying it. We don't even need to have that conversation. But there's still so much work to do in terms of... hashtag amplify melanated voices. I think about how we're bringing more awareness to gender identity in the world. And there are so much... Like I said, there's a lot of work to be done to make sure that we're all making an effort to amplify those voices, and I believe it's incumbent upon us and our responsibility as folks with identities that have not been historically marginalized to step back and make room for more folks with different identities from our own.
So that's a long winded way of saying...
Stacy Mayer: That was so fantastic. And I was thinking about from the organization's perspective, it's a lot of organizations missions to change the face of their own leadership table. Like that's something that they're very actively doing right now. And if they can bring up people who have that voice that already have that established thought leadership voice, it makes the organization look better.
Eva Jannotta: And perform better.
Stacy Mayer: For sure. Absolutely. I love that.
And Stacy, one thing that's important, I think, to to mention here is... we talked at length about thought leadership, your opinions, your insights, your beliefs. And it's important to just remind ourselves and everyone listening that if you're a white person and you're male identified and you take to thought leadership and you really come out of the gate with your insights and opinions, you might ruffle some feathers. And that's probably a good thing. That's what you want to attract the people who are the right fit for you and Like-Minded with you and want to work with you and you want to repel those that don't. But it's not the same if, say, you're a black woman and you want to come out and do the same thing. You have this legacy of being labeled angry because of the intersection of your identities. And so there's a greater risk involved in coming out and being really bold with your insights and perspectives, depending upon the identities of yourself.
Eva Jannotta: I was thinking, and I know you're going to give us a brilliant answer to this. But I also want to include, working in corporate doesn't make you want to do this risk. Like inherently it's way riskier to come out with opinions because of the corporate structure. And so when you're an entrepreneur, you can piss people off all day long. As long as you have clients coming in. So continue to answer your question, but my mind was just like: 'Oh well, yeah. This is why people resort to just kind of sharing an article.'
Eva Jannotta: Right. Or they or they try to publish that leadership. But it ends up being very bland because they have to be careful. And the reason I bring up the example of like a white man who's writing versus a black woman who's writing is just to remind all of us that those are not equal starting points. And the way something is received when a white man writes it is different than if a black woman were to write the same thing. Studies have shown this time and again it's just a fact and it's not fair. But it's just important, I think we just need to be conscious that all of us have different identities in ourselves, and that impacts how comfortable we feel with coming out as a thought leader or the ways in which we want to do that. And so I don't think there's really an answer here. It's just a fact that I think it's important to be conscious of, and especially when it comes to bringing people up in your company and putting them in positions of senior leadership. We just have to remember that not everyone has the same ability to take risks or comfort level with taking risks as everyone else.
Stacy Mayer: So speaking of feeling comfortable putting yourself out there in that way, I know that I think I've heard you say this before, that you're an introvert at heart.
Eva Jannotta: Yes.
Stacy Mayer: And so that could be useful as well. Let's say if you're naturally introverted, you're not somebody who puts himself out there a lot. What are some tools that you can use to begin to feel comfortable speaking up and sharing your ideas in this bolder way?
Eva Jannotta: Yeah. I mean, I think the first thing I like to remind myself is to is to stay really grounded in my way of being. I know a lot of folks who identify as introverted have had experience where we feel like there's something wrong with us. And why don't we just want to be more outgoing? Why do we feel this way or that way? It wasn't until the book Quiet came out that I think this way of being was really brought more into the public eye and made more understandable to others. And that's a great thing. I'm really glad that that happened. But still, we live in a world, especially when you're in corporate and you've got to do a lot of networking and you got to put self advocate where it comes naturally to, I think, extroverted people or outgoing people to do that. So one thing I remind myself is that I just self coach a lot. There's nothing wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with my way of being. There's nothing wrong with how I feel drawn to do things. And there's sometimes a misconception, I think, that introverted people don't like making new friends or don't like networking or don't like putting themselves out there. I don't think that's correct. I think it's that our way of doing it is is different.
Stacy Mayer: It reminds me of the medium, right? the medium that you feel comfortable in. So there's so many different ways that you can show up as a thought leader.
Another idea that just came to mind as being on a board, right? It's a different way of giving back to the community and really serving in a way. It doesn't always have to look like posting on social media for all the world to see, right?
Eva Jannotta: Yeah, maybe it's mentoring. Maybe it's coaching a group of early professionals or career professionals. Maybe it's...if you are an introvert and you're drawn to writing, but you don't want to throw it into the LinkedIn void yet, maybe you start a blog and you just send it to a few people you know and trust it first. And you kind of slowly build your confidence and comfort level one step at a time. Yeah, go ahead and stay busy.
Well, I was just going to say at the very first step that I really appreciated that you shared today is to develop your own, like literally just for you, what you care about as a leader. So develop your own opinions. And sometimes we just need an outlet to do that. So even if it's a blog that is only shared with five or six people, you're starting to develop your own leadership style, what matters to you, and all of that's going to come into your next interview, to your next position, to how you lead your team.
Eva Jannotta: Yeah, I mean, gosh. You could even start in your journal. Like literally this week started that exercise that everyone and their uncle has been telling me I should do, which is morning pages.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, yeah. I was an I was an actor for 20 years. So morning pages just kind of comes from the whole theater background too.
Eva Jannotta: Yeah. And like I had heard of it and I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. And I just started trying it this week. and it's been so helpful as sort of like a meditative practice to start my morning. But it's also interesting. It actually takes some doing to fill three pages first thing in the morning. And so I find that ideas or experiences or things that I've read, they come up and I got nothing else to do and I've got to fill three pages. So I start writing them down. And that's been a helpful way of of developing some of my ideas.
And the thing that I think is really powerful about that, too, about starting your thought leadership practice in your journal is perfectionism holds a lot of us back. And it's inevitable that the thought leadership you produce two and five years from now is going to be different and perhaps "better" than what you produce today. And that's a fact.
Nothing really to be done to it.
Stacy Mayer: I've just been thinking about my own thought leadership. I'm like: 'Yup. It's different."
Eva Jannotta: Right. Even some stuff I've written earlier this year, I now feel a tiny bit cringey about. But that's the process. And so if that's really holding you back, which I think is super common, there's no lower pressure placed than your journal. And so if that's where you're going to start practising what you want to sound like, the types of words that you want to use, the kind of examples or stories that you want to give, like what a great place to start compiling those and you'll have that that journal when you're ready to start sharing with a greater audience than just one.
Stacy Mayer: This reminds me of the part that I would think would hold a lot of people back is because what did you say, 17 percent of articles that we read are worthwhile? So we want it to be good and totally. That can often be our Achilles heel because we're never going to actually produce it if we are so fixated on it being good and the actual result. And so what is the mindset trick that we can do to to present it anyway?
Eva Jannotta: If only there were just a mindset trick. I mean, my experience is that it gets easier and it never gets easier. It's like, I get more and more comfortable and more and more confident in my voice and in my opinions and in my perspective and their inherent worth and value the more I share them. And there's always a part of me that's like: 'This could probably be better. I don't know.'.
And there's always a part of me that's a little bit cringey. And I think that's just my lot in life and all and most people their lot in life that, yeah, you're going to build your confidence. That's what practice does. Confidence does not come before practice. And you're going to get feedback and most of it will be good and some of it will be probably not that great. And there's probably always going to be a part of you that is second guessing. And that's just that's not a red light, right? That's, I think, a green light. And that's just a sign that you're challenging yourself. You're moving yourself forward.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah. So it doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.
Eva Jannotta: Oh, my gosh. Exactly. Yeah. That's a if we're going to talk about mindset tricks, actually, that's one that I find useful, which is doubt or resistance or second guessing. I try to coach myself into seeing that as a green light and not a red light. Because it makes me feel like it's not worth the risk, too scary, not good enough, whatever, whatever. But I've learned, learning about human psychology and our nervous system that that's your kind of whole system, trying to keep you safe and. You don't really need to stay safe, we're staying safe is not your responsibility as a leader, I should say. And so it's helpful for me to try to recognize those feelings, those hesitancy feelings, as a sign that I'm really making progress in my thought leadership.
Stacy Mayer: So I'm curious now that we've been talking. Why do you care so much about thought leadership? How has this helped you in your life and your career? And and why is this something that we're talking about today?
Eva Jannotta: I think because I mean, everyone listening, when I saw this will probably have a couple of names or faces come to mind, which is: think about the people in your life that you're most drawn to, like leaders in your life, that you're most drawn to, whether that's like an Oprah or a Brene Brown or Simon Sinek. Think about those people and why you're drawn to them and what impact they've had on your life from reading their books or watching their shows or listening to their podcasts. That's a really profound thing, that someone whom you've never met has had such a influence on your life and maybe how you treat yourself, how you treat others, how you go about your work, how you are with your family and friends. I mean, just the ability that we have to influence and really, really help others is just so remarkable and humbling to me. And that's why I'm so fired up about thought leadership, because we all have this ability within us to to really make a difference for others. I mean, I think about people from like my high school teachers to different professors to like professional colleagues, to people that I have never met and how they've shaped me. And to think that I could have that impact on someone else is really remarkable. But my ability to do that is very limited if I keep it all in my head or if I keep it all between me and the people that I know personally. That's nothing to sneeze at. That's amazing. But I can increase my ripple effect on others by taking what's between my ears and putting it out into the world.
Yeah, let's do it. Eva, you're helping so many people and inspiring so many people just with today's episode. So thank you.
Eva Jannotta: Awesome. That makes me super happy.
Stacy Mayer: Good. How can we learn more from you? So if I'm listening to this and I'm a corporate executive who wants to start to use and branch into thought leadership, but I'm not really sure where to begin, how do we connect with you and learn more about the work that you're doing?
Eva Jannotta: Yeah, great. So I'm going to first. I want to say that corporate executives can be in a tough spot when it comes to thought leadership. We haven't addressed this yet and I think it's important to say, which is that you've spent probably decades in your career moving yourself forward, reaching different milestones and goal posts until you get to this point of being a senior leader and suddenly you've got more of a spotlight on you than you ever have before. And you have this opportunity to build a thought leadership platform and maybe even being expected of you that you take on a more public leadership role. And so kind of suddenly you're supposed to be a thought leader and you're like: 'Wait a minute, I just spent years getting here and now I'm supposed to do this, but also do this other thing?'
Stacy Mayer: I love that you pointed that out because we've been talking about thought leadership as something that we desire and want to do. And what you're talking about, too, is that as we move up the corporate chain, that it's also something that's expected of us. Oh, that's so good.
Eva Jannotta: And it's my understanding that most corporate environments don't train you or give you the tools...
Stacy Mayer: Oh, no, no, no, no.
Eva Jannotta: ...to step into that role when you're at a senior leadership position. So you're in a tough spot. And you're working many, many hours a week and you maybe also have a family or, for heavens sake, hobbies that you want to attend to. I just want to acknowledge that if you listen to this conversation and you feel simultaneously inspired but also utterly overwhelmed and daunted, that that's very normal. There's nothing wrong with you. And you didn't grow up because you somehow didn't figure this out 10 years ago. None of that. So I think it's important just to acknowledge that situation that people find themselves in in corporate.
Stacy Mayer: Absolutely.
And this is where I think that working with a thought leadership consultant like myself or in an informal way, perhaps like an accountability partnership situation, but it really makes a difference to not try to go it alone. It really makes a difference.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, my gosh. Yeah. I feel like our corporations are very quick to point out what we did wrong, but they don't give us the tools to do it right from the beginning. So, yeah, just such a great point.
Eva Jannotta: Yeah. So again, I mean, I feel like we can it helps to be reminded multiple times a day that there's nothing wrong with you, nothing wrong with any of us. And so including if you're a senior leader and you're all of a sudden supposed to be a thought leader and you're like, what?
So anyway, I wanted to make sure I said that. But to answer your actual question, Stacy, so I'd love for you to connect with me via email. So you can go to 5MagneticPillars.com and join my short free email course for the five pillars of magnetic thought leadership. And this will teach you some really important principles to publishing those bold opinions and experiences we've been talking about. And it'll also give you an opportunity to e-mail me directly, which I love. I'm like a pen pal nerd type, so I love getting emails. And you can also find me on LinkedIn. I'm the only Eva Jannotta I think in the whole world. It's not a very common set of names which is convenient. So you can find me on LinkedIn, just send me a connection request. Let me know you heard me on Stacy's pod and I'd love to get to know you.
Stacy Mayer: You were born a thought leader just by your name.
Eva Jannotta: Very convenient.
Stacy Mayer: Yes. Yeah. You're very unique in your perspective. I love it so much, Eva. I think this has been extremely valuable. Anything else that you want to share with us before we go?
Eva Jannotta: Yeah. I like to remind myself and everyone listening that wherever you are right now is the exactly right place to be. So if you're learning this for the first time, that's OK. If you've been at this for a while, that's OK. Wherever you are right now is the right place to be perfect.
Stacy Mayer: Thank you again. And I will definitely link to Eva's 5 Magnetic Pillars of Thought Leadership in the show notes. I'll also link to Julia Cameron's Morning Pages just because I also find that process very fascinating. And yeah, thank you again. Take care.
Eva Jannotta: Thanks so much, Stacey.
Stacy Mayer: Bye.
Eva Jannotta: Bye.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.