Sell Your Thoughts How to Earn a Million Dollars a Year as a Thought Leader
by Matt Church, Peter Cook and Scott Stein
Publisher: Harper Collins (2011)
Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*
With almost every industry except mining in a downturn that appears to aspire to death-spiral status, it is almost inevitable that many people will be thinking about leaving their corporate positions, possibly even willingly, and working on their own. This book is written by three people who have all done that. They have done it well, made good money doing it, and have thought carefully about the processes and practices that gave them that success.
The book starts by examining the value of thought leadership. This is a discipline that can be exercised within existing corporate structures by becoming the 'in-house go-to-guy (or gal)' for a particular topic expertise. It can also be exercised in your own business as an entrepreneur who takes and exploits a business idea within a corporate structure. The topic of this book is the discipline of thought leaders who decide to build a practise around their ideas. Some people call them infopreneurs; they are consultants, trainers or authors who bring an extra 'zing' to whatever they do. They are rewarded in proportion to the value of their thoughts rather than the cost of their time.
The first section provides an overview of the differences between practices and businesses. It focuses on markets, methodologies and messages. To be successful a Thought Leader will need to make some clear choices about these and to develop some tactics for aligning them to generate revenue building activity. A practice is not a business and many 'one-man-band' thought businesses fail because they attempt to develop and sustain the accoutrements of small (or even large) businesses without realising that these are a perfect foundation for failure. The book cautions against doing the wrong things at any stage of your development so as not to harm your fledgling practice.
The next section looks at the activities and focus defined by the level of revenue generated by the practice. The basic premise that doing the right things at the wrong time can be as harmful as doing the wrong things is illustrated through practical and candid examples drawn from the experiences of other thought leaders interviewed in the book. Whilst acknowledging that every thought leader is different and will evolve a different practice from any other thought leader, the book is firm in recommending restraint and growth only upon a firm foundation.
For every thought leader there will be a chapter in this section that resonates with seemingly perfect activities for enhancing their practice. There will also be painful reminders in other chapters of times when inappropriate activity has rebounded badly or simply failed expensively. Following the plan appears, from personal as well as the anecdotal experiences in the book, to provide a better measure of success. It is also a good idea to drop the book at the point where the level of income exceeds your aspirations by one or more steps. Don't waste time reading about things you should not logically do; invest it in thinking about the things that are right for you at this stage of your practice. You can always come back and read the remaining chapters at a later date.
Finally there is a section of advice on living well 'beyond black belt'; this contains advice on wealth preservation and the building of legacy through your life's work. A thought leader's practice is not like a hairdresser or medical practice - you can build up a clientele and then sell the right to position a new person at the focal point of the social network. If your ideas are truly leadership in thinking then when you retire from the practice it will rapidly decline. The thoughts about legacy, about the impact of the creative ideas expressed through the practice, are quite inspirational and transcend the practical money-making focus of the rest of the book. They remind the reader about the true purpose of a thought leadership practice.
This book will challenge you if you have preconceived notions about the inherent badness of being focused on money or on working with the aim of making more money than you need to survive. The final chapters give some glimpse of the non-financial rewards to be gained from the financial freedom that is only possible through financial success. If the early and middle chapters challenge your ideals and notions about why you might want to go into business for yourself then read these final chapters first.
A highly worthwhile book for anyone tempted to try earning a living and developing a quality of life based on the quality of their thinking.
* Julie Garland McLellan is a professional non-executive director, board and governance consultant and mentor. She is the author of "Presenting to Boards", Dilemmas, Dilemmas: Practical Case Studies for Company Directors, "The Director's Dilemma", "All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector" and numerous articles on corporate strategy and governance.
Julie Garland McLellan to judge 2011 Global eBook Awards