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Building A Thought Leadership Ecosystem With Eva Jannotta


TRANSCRIPT AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED [00:00:00] Hey, Hey, today's guest Eva. Janata is a thought leader, advisor and trainer. And what that means is she helps women leaders create thought leadership ecosystems so that we can amplify our authority and our influence. Diane: Hey Eva. Welcome to the show. Eva: thank you. Diane: I am very excited to chat, but first, let's give everyone an intro to you and your business, Tony. Eva: Okay, so what had happened was once upon a time, I had a corporate job and it fell apart, and hindsight tells me that I was too. Scared to find another job. So I thought it'd be less scary to start a business, which is hilarious in hindsight. But I am really happy that I went that route, although I was utterly unprepared, didn't have a plan, didn't know what the heck I was doing. That was over eight years ago now. And. My business grew pretty slowly for the first handful of years through word of mouth, through networking, through trying a lot of different things. Going through that phase of I'll, you know, I'll do anything for money. So anti niche, all of that. And within the more recent years we've really. Narrowed in on providing thought leadership support to women leaders. Particularly. We work with consultants, keynote speakers, authors, coaches, combinations thereof, to help these women to take all of the. Insights and wisdom and experiences that are between their ears and turn those into thought pieces that they can, can distribute to their audience to make an impact, to attract opportunities to grow their community, their network, et cetera. Diane: I can't believe that you thought it would be less scary to start a business. It all worked out in the end. So let's start with what an overview of thought leadership actually is because it has become a little bit like one of those words [00:02:00] in the coaching and consulting space where like you are almost required to say, I'm a thought leader. But what is it actually like? How does somebody know that I am a thought leader? Eva: Right, so that's such an interesting thing because unlike getting a PhD or an MBA or a medical degree, I. Or a license for something. There's no governing body of thought leadership, right? So there's no one's gonna hand you your papers and tell you that you arrived. And so I liken the title of thought leadership or the identity of thought leadership more. I think, I think of it as analogous to when you're an artist. I, one of my closest friends is my cousin, he's an artist. And we've talked about how, you know, when do you get to call yourself an artist? When do you get to call? Like when do you get to call yourself a thought leader? At what point have you earned that? That right. And the answer is that there really isn't an answer actually. And on the one hand, that's great because it's accessible. Thought leadership, being a thought leader is accessible. On the other hand, it does mean that people can call themselves thought leaders who one would argue have no business doing so. But to, to back up what it actually is cuz you're right Diane, it's totally like business jargon at this point. So in a, in a really, really simple terms thought leadership refers to content that you make available for free. It's not about selling anything, it's about sharing your insights and your perspective based on your expertise to help someone solve a problem. Diane: Can you give us an example, maybe like a really well known example just for anyone Eva: absolutely. Yeah. So probably the most, from my perspective, one of the most well-known thought leaders is Dr. Brene Brown. And citing her as an example can be intimidating because she's really kind of at the pinnacle of. Of being known for her thinking and her ideas and her expertise and her content, you know, her books, her Ted talks, [00:04:00] her articles, her podcast. So, but I think she's a valuable example even though you know, she's at a level that most of us will probably not reach, just because that's not, you know, not everyone can be at the very top. But what I think is valuable about her, as an example, is to remind folks, cuz she's very well known now for big picture ideas like courage and vulnerability and leadership. But actually way back when she started out as a shame researcher. Which is incredibly niche and frankly not very appealing. Like who wants to. Think about that. No one, but she's, but I think that's valuable the, to, to remember that she started super, super specific and has grown this thought leader empire and become known for much more broad topics. Solving specific problems, providing specific insight and expertise is how you start building that thought leader platform and becoming recognized as a sought after expert for what you know and do. Diane: And so I wanna pick up on one of the words you used there, which was expertise. Because I think there is an element of thought leadership being viewed as me talking about what I did. Eva: aha. Diane: Versus expertise that I have gained. And what I mean by that is thought leadership as like a seven step framework versus thought leadership. As I've looked at this issue, and yes, I've curated other views from other people, but I've turned this idea on its head to help somebody. And I think one is the Brene Brown. I've thought about shame, I've written about shame. I've then developed that into vulnerability and courage and built on that. And the other is the business jargon. Eva: So Diane, that's such a important distinction that you make between like the, here's what I did and I've turned it into a formula, [00:06:00] versus, here's what I have know was what I know and what I've studied and experienced and, and, and, and I'm seeing with new eyes, helping you see with new eyes this kind of maybe status quo concept. And this is where, you know, there there's overlap between thought leadership and content marketing, but they're not the same thing. And your example, your first example of the seven step process, I would consider that a flavor of content marketing where you're just trying to maybe sell your formula, your seven steps or what have you. And you're teaching, but you're not ac necessarily coming from a place of. Offering new perspectives or seeing with new eyes. I love that phrase, which I heard from Ter Perel. Diane: Okay, so somebody has decided, okay, I want to be a thought leader. I have really deep thoughts on, I don't know, some topic to do with business. What do we actually need to create from an ecosystem perspective to step into this now thought leadership. Even if we've decided that we're gonna be the next Brande Brown and be a thought leader, we still have to pay the bills in the meantime. Right. And thought leadership takes time. It's not like a, an overnight flick, the switch. So I have my content marketing happening, and then how do I slot this thought leadership into this ecosystem? Or is it a separate ecosystem? Like where does this live in my business? Eva: mean. Yeah. So my experience is that it lives everywhere. It really permeates my whole business, and I guess you could say like the approach that I've taken in that I recommend to my clients is that, To an extent thought leadership actually replaces content marketing or functions as content marketing. you might have a sales webinar, right? To sell a program, and part of your webinar is you conveying your thought leadership, your insights, your wisdom, your experience, either your depth of knowledge about this thing. And then there's also the aspect of the webinar where you're being very strategic [00:08:00] about how you're positioning your offer and conveying its value and addressing pain points. That's content or sales strategy. But they can layer together really beautifully and in a way that makes you stand out far more than like Susie K Cream cheese, who's kind of doing the webinar the way everyone else is doing the webinar, where it's much more. Sort of step by step and very rote. So my perspective is that thought leadership is, is the most valuable type of content marketing as a base. And I recommend it for building connection and intimacy with your email list. I recommend it for social media. I certainly recommend it for your keynotes. Obviously any books you write Podcasts you join or host, et cetera. Diane: almost the foundation of your content marketing strategy. And then you may layer some sales on top at some point, some visibility opportunities on top of it, but it's, it's almost like your core. Message to the world Eva: Precisely, yes. And then when what I talk, the way I talk about it with my clients is that is building actually, and I love that you used this word, the word ecosystem, Diane, because I talk about a thought leader ecosystem and this idea that what you're creating is inner depth, like the depth of your own thinking and this kind of, this self-actualization and creativity that comes from. Really examining what do I think and why, and can I trust that and can I share that with other people? That's the inner depth. And then you also, but you could do that in your journal, right? So what makes it different from you having an an awesome journal for yourself? Is creating outer resonance, really acting as a distributor of your thought leadership, which is where content marketing strategy and tactics come in. But thinking of yourself as, okay, not only am I a thought leader because of my thinking [00:10:00] and my content, but I'm also an active distributor of my work, and I go out and I make it accessible. I use the tools available like social, like podcasts, like the internet at large, like speaking to. Provide access to my thought leadership so that people know that it exists and they know that there's a way of being, and a way of thinking, and a way of doing business that they've maybe never heard before. Diane: I think what's interesting is we recognize the journey from after the thought leadership piece. We recognize what you said about a webinar. We recognize what you said about social media. We reco, we know how to distribute. So let's take it back to the piece of thought leadership because. I know there's not like a seven step framework for this time. Desperate. I'm desperately trying to avoid a question that sounds like that. But if you were to think through almost the phases of thought leadership, so I've had an inkling of an idea to the point that the thought piece, let's, let's say it's a really long involved essay on your website what are the phases that live in that thought leadership or thought piece journey. Eva: Yeah. Okay. This is where I'm gonna leap on a soapbox for a hot second because you know, my perspective is that most people, and certainly most women, have been socialized to not trust ourselves and to not. Follow our own lead, rather. We're encouraged to look outside of ourselves, ask for advice, get other people's opinions, make decisions by committee do what other people are doing. And I don't knock that entirely. You know, sometimes blending in or following a crowd or what have you is a really important, certainly survival mechanism, but also just like sometimes that's just easier and you wanna take the path of least resistance, and there's nothing wrong with that. But what can happen when we've come to the point where we're, we're [00:12:00] building a business, we wanna become recognized thought leaders in our space, is we haven't had a lot of practice paying attention to our own ideas, especially the controversial ones, or the ones that poke at the status quo or, or we haven't maybe even been accustomed to paying attention to our own emotion. I spent a lot of time coming up being bombarded by content marketing advice because that's what happens when you look at the internet in, in the entrepreneur world and just feeling like, I don't like that idea. That doesn't feel good to me. That doesn't feel like me. But I felt like, well, This is how you do it. This is a good, this person's clearly an expert. This is good advice. I guess I have to make myself follow this advice, even though everything in me is screaming. Don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that. So that is where it starts. That's the first phase. It's like actually giving yourself the time of day, paying attention to like, how do I feel? What do I think? And then rather than dismissing it right away, which many of us are practiced at doing, instead, the invitation is See what? See where this idea goes. See where this feeling leads you. So to make a long story short, I call that uncensored yourself. That's the first step is letting yourself have thoughts and ideas and perspectives and opinions that might feel a little scary, that might feel provocative, that you might worry are wrong. Let yourself have those, let them out. That's, those are the kernels of your best thought leadership. Not every single one's gonna be an amazing idea, but. When you listen to yourself, when you're a good steward and student of your own self, that's how you can kind of tune in your antenna to like your own thought leadership. So now you have to get the idea into a [00:14:00] comprehensible format for someone else. It starts being just for you. And this is where so this is one set of skills that you're building is like unc censoring yourself. And building the skill of, for my clients and me, it's writing. That's our, that's my love language. For other folks, they are more comfortable. They might be video people, they might be podcast people, keynote people, or a combination of the above. So, all right. You've got this idea out. You've given it the time of day, you've let it develop. You've maybe dumped all your notes on a Word document or a piece of paper. Now you apply really strong structure to make it an excellent piece of writing that other people will find really engaging. And then you're at the point where it's about ready to distribute. And that's where all the skills you talked about, Diane, that we're all familiar with, of. how to distribute ideas. Those come in. So the three phases are really, you know, you have this creative phase, UNC censoring yourself. And then you have the second phase, which I think of as like cultivation. You are giving it structure, you're helping it to grow and develop. And then you have the third phase, which I think of as in some ways the most, the, the most vulnerable and, , nerve-wracking phase, which is. Letting it go, hitting, publish, starting the distribution process, letting it be out in the world where other people can judge it. Can't tell you you're wrong and can love it. Feel so seen and validated by what you've shared. And then they become some of your most avid fans, your referral partners, your clients, and your people. Diane: So when you describe thought leadership, I can 100% see it. I'm obviously a talker more than I am a writer. But I already have a podcast. Eva: Yes. Diane: clients and, and, and, and other people have similar situations, the one thing we don't have enough of in our businesses is time and thought leadership is time consuming.[00:16:00] It's time consuming to think of the idea. It's time consuming to cultivate the idea, and then it's time consuming to distribute the idea. So before we commit time to things in our business, let me clap on my soapbox. We should make sure that we know how to measure whether they're being effective. And this applies to everything, to teams, to systems, to marketing, to sales, the whole shebang. So how do we measure thought leadership? Eva: Measurement is so hard of anything. I mean, I have this conversation pretty often about the idea of micro conversions and how challenging it is to measure micro conversions. And so you might, you might have the experience of, oh, my clients come for, to me via word of mouth. Which doesn't account for all of the tiny touchpoints prior, right? Like they saw your website, they read, use this blog article. They saw your social media. Oh, and their friend told them they should get in touch with you. So that's the thing that gets the credit for their engagement. But there was all this other, all these other aspects of your ecosystem that influence their decision to come work with you. But my perspective is that the power and the strength of thought leadership is in its cumulative impact. And so what we see with clients, for example, is once they start the practice of creating and distributing their thought leadership consistently, they see enormous upticks in their followers on LinkedIn, which is the social media that my company specializes in providing. They see increases in traffic to their website. They see increased opportunities, invited on podcasts, quoted in articles. They see an increase in the. Fees they can command for keynote speaking because they've got this growing audience behind them and that's not the result of one individual piece. That's the result of multiple pieces of the [00:18:00] practice of thought leadership over time. I acknowledge that that is frustrating if you're like, I have this much time and I need to do the most effective thing with it. The truth may be that thought leadership isn't the most effective thing you can do right now to get a result very quickly. Rather, I talk about it as a lifestyle choice for your own self-actualization and for this long-term growth. Of your community, of your impact, of your opportunities. But a lot of times, you know, each, each individual piece of thought leadership is just one in a this jigsaw puzzle that you're building over time. Diane: I like what you said there because you used the word impact and I think people do have ways of measuring their impact as an entire business. And so if you've always been doing contact marketing and you add thought leadership and nothing else changes, thought leadership will be driving. Those impact changes. So I do think it is measurable. I just wanted to get to a point where we could go, okay, what does that actually look like? So that people had an idea in their head. Okay. If you could only tell any entrepreneur one thing about thought leadership, what would that one thing be? Eva: You have to just start doing it. And I think we have a very human brain bias towards thinking, oh, I'll do that when I'm ready. Like I'll, I'll reach this kind of magical readiness point and then I will blah, blah, blah. But the reverse is actually true, which is that you put in the, the work and that builds you the confidence and the sense of readiness that you can take advantage of the work. So it's this, it's sort of like, you know, it's, and I think this is true of marketing at large, but like it's like a circle kind of everything's connected. This relates to this, relates to this, and it can be overwhelming to think, well, like, where do I enter the circle? What's the right first step? And my perspective is that the right first step is the one that you choose. Diane: Ooh. Okay. So you mentioned LinkedIn is your preferred place for [00:20:00] thought leadership content. Do you have a resource that will help people up their LinkedIn so that when they start. Sending stuff out. People know what they stand for. Eva: Absolutely. Yeah. One of my kind of principles that I talk about with clients and that I'm known for online, is this idea of social media monogamy, where you pick one network and you really put all your attention and energy towards. Excelling there, going for depth rather than breadth across the social. So obviously my mine is LinkedIn. I hard it so much and I do have a free course I love to share about optimizing your LinkedIn profile. It's your LinkedIn profile.com. It's just a couple of days where I have videos and written instructions for like small but cumulative, impactful tweaks you can make to your profile to generate leads and make sure that your profile's really working hard for you. Diane: I'll link that in the show notes as well, just in case anyone can't remember that U url. So a couple of questions that I or ask to all of my guests. What is your Number one lifestyle boundary? For your business. Eva: I'll tell you one that I used to have and then I totally fell off the wagon and now I'm like getting back on the wagon like this week, which is letting enough be enough. I, I've got, I've gotten into this habit where, I would work until like, I had to make dinner because I was like, well, I have more time. I'll just keep doing these things. The things never stop. And that was making me feel really depleted and it was a not a boundary at all. So, I had a, I had a good pep talk with my friend about that, and she reminded me to like, let enough be enough and I'm reconnecting with like what does done feel like? What does enough feel like in my mind and body? That's when I shut the laptop. So that's a work in progress. Diane: Oh, that sounds like a tough one. A good one, but a tough one to, to do and practice cuz you're [00:22:00] right, it never, like the work never Eva: You're never done. It's so you have to decide to be done, and that's hard. Diane: Yes, especially if you're like a checklist person. So finally, what is the worst piece of cookie cutter advice you've been given on your business Eva: All right. I'm not gonna get on a soapbox. I just, I get so frustrated by the pervasiveness of unsolicited advice. Here's an example. I once was really honored to have this like free coaching session with a really high profile leader here in the United States. Someone who I'd followed, followed for a while. I was like really excited to talk to her and. We got on Skype and she gave me some advice which had to do with building a community, using a Facebook group. And that was just an example, you know, doesn't have to be the medium of a Facebook group, but her, her advice was building a community and I was so disappointed. That's not bad advice, but I could tell. This woman doesn't know anything about me, and this is probably the advice she's giving, literally everyone she's having these calls with. And yeah, it's not bad advice, but it has nothing to do with me, with where my business is, with what I wanna create, with what kind of clients I serve. And I just felt so, I was just so disappointed to, to get, and, and that's I think what I feel with a lot of advice is like, man, I know this is. Good advice for someone, but this has nothing to do with me, and it's like mental clutter, Diane: And very often that's the advice that is the, the content marketing advice of like, here's what I did, so I know that it's successful. And I want to teach you how to do it versus what if the advice was that you shouldn't build a community? What would that look like? Right? So yes, I can imagine as a person who's invested in thought leadership receiving generic advices, particularly frustrating for you.[00:24:00] Eva: It totally is. And I like your point, Diana, just like, what if. You zagged if everyone else is zigging, and that is much more, that's, at least that starts a more interesting conversation. Even if I don't take that exact anti advice or whatever, that's a, an interesting conversation. Whereas, hey, try this thing that everyone, literally, everyone's trying. No, thank you. Diane: Even if it was just to have a conversation around, could a group work, it's like a different, different level of Eva: Yes, at absolutely. Diane: So I feel like we've covered a lot, including some tangents and some soap boxes between the two of us. But where can people find you to carry on the conversation? I'm gonna guess it's LinkedIn and they can maybe have like a little snoop on your LinkedIn to see what theirs could potentially become. Eva: Diane, you are so right. Yes, please find me on LinkedIn and I would love if you send me a connection request and tell me that you heard me on Diane's show. I love meeting and connecting with new people and LinkedIn is the only way you can connect with me on the social media side at least. so please do. Diane: Amazing. And just for one final soapbox, if you connect with someone on LinkedIn, please tell them why you're connecting. Like if I get a connection link request on LinkedIn with no context from someone I don't know. I'm not accepting because my in assumption is that three seconds later you are gonna pitch me. So please make sure that you tell Eva that you met her through the podcast and that you want to have the conversation about thought leadership. Eva: Good LinkedIn manners. Absolutely. Anytime you send a connection request, include a note to let the person know why the heck you're reaching out. It is amazing how many people don't take that very simple two second effort. It makes such a difference for the receiver. Just like if you were in a party and you went up and introduced yourself to somebody, you wouldn't say nothing. You would say something. Diane: extreme awkwardness, walk up Eva: Can you even like, oh my God, that'd be weird. Diane: I feel like that's like your next piece of like marketing. You should totally [00:26:00] film like a video where you ne when you next go to like a cocktail party where you just like walk up to groups and say Nothing. Eva: know if I could, I might be too cringey for that. Diane, I don't know if I'm a good person to do that social experiment. I'd be too uncomfortable. Diane: I have faith in you. Come on. Oh dear. Thank you so much for this. It has been a lot of fun chatting to Eva: Likewise, Diane. Thanks for having me.

If you’re reading other people’s content thinking, “Yeah but…”, there’s a thought leadership idea ready to be nurtured and sent out into the world.

Eva Jannotta walks you through why thought leadership is essential, how it fits into your business, and how to develop your own thought leadership ecosystem

Key Takeaway

Thought leadership is not a one-and-done, quick-win type of strategy. The power and the strength of thought leadership are in its cumulative impact.

We talk about

  • What exactly is and isn’t thought leadership
  • How thought leadership differs from and works with content marketing
  • Where thought leadership fits into your business
  • The phases of thought leadership
  • Measuring the effectiveness of your thought leadership
  • Eva’s lifestyle boundary for her business
  • The worst cookie-cutter advice Eva’s been given on her lifestyle business

About Eva

Eva Jannotta (she/her) is on a mission to see women leaders and culture shapers take more than half of the seats as bestselling authors, top-rated podcast hosts, and highest-paid speakers. Eva and the Medusa Media Group team train and advise authors, speakers, coaches and consultants to build authority and influence build authority and influence thru thought leadership ecosystems. Eva lives on O'odham Jeweḍ, Akimel O'odham, and Hohokam ancestral land in Phoenix, AZ.


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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this podcast episode and article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or episode. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Diane Mayor disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.