Get ready to hear some remarkable stories, Hamilton.
I got a preview earlier this month when I talked media relations 101 with the founding members of Speak Now Hamilton (follow on Twitter at @SpeakNowHamOnt).
They’ve joined a speakers’ bureau created by the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. About two dozen Hamiltonians are learning how to deliver a speech and meet the press. That training will complement their courage to share very personal stories about living in poverty.
They’re going to be powerful speakers with important stories worth hearing. And here’s hoping some members of Speak Now Hamilton become thought leaders on poverty to prosperity solutions for our community.
“Thought leadership is not about being known; it’s about being known for making a difference,” says Denise Brosseau, author of Ready to be a Thought Leader?, cofounder of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and CEO of Thought Leadership Lab.
“Whatever issue you are tackling, whatever problem you are working to solve, whatever arena you choose to educate and inspire and engage others in – it needs your voice.
“To stay on the sidelines or keep silent or not value your participation will mean not only that you will lose the opportunity to make a difference but that the rest of us will lose too. We will lose your passion, your commitment and your dedication to making a difference. We will lose your unique story and your ability to have a meaningful impact on the issues you care most about.”
Based on her experience turning business and community leaders into thought leaders, Brosseau has come up with a seven step process.
Step one is to find your driving passion. Figure out where your interests, expertise, credibility and commitment converge. “This intersection point will be an arena that can be uniquely yours, or where you’ll be one of the few.”
After finding your niche, envision your world-changing What If? Future. All thought leaders need one. “A WIF is a single, simple, striking description or image of the future you want to see.” Push yourself to think big and then go even bigger, advises Brosseau. Big, seemingly improbable ideas have the power to inspire and turn audiences into advocates who take up your cause.
Thought leadership isn’t easy. Prepare to invest a lot of time and effort. Expect some false starts, wrong turns, cynics and critics.
But above all else, trust that you can do this, says Brosseau. “Thought leaders do not have a special gene, any inborn talents or a secret decoder ring. They are not always confident – they have their moments of doubt. That are not always the smartest kid in the room. They have stumbled around, lost their way and then, somehow, found it again. And so will you.”
Thought leadership isn’t a maybe someday proposition. It’s an obligation, says Brosseau. If not you, then who?
“There are so many unexplored opportunities to make a difference. There is so much work to be done to create organizations, businesses, governments and cities that serve the needs of all. Go out and change the world. Increase your impact, expand your influence, and leave a legacy that matters.”