Categories
Portfolio careers productivity Small business writing

How to be a thought leader

Thought leadership is a bit of a marketing buzzword – vague and cringey, and unlike lead generation, hard to measure.

There’s no recipe for success. 

What does it mean on a day-to-day level for your business – and how do you do it well?  

The Portfolio Collective have invited me to speak at an event on ‘Raising your flag and becoming a thought leader’ and share my experiences on how I’ve done it with the future of work community and wider audience.

Thought leadership is about how people in your industry (and your customers) perceive you. 

  • James Clear (the habits guy) 
  • David Perell (the writing guy)
  • Pieter Levels (the nomad guy)
  • Amy Porterfield (the digital marketing gal)
  • Rosie Sherry (the community gal)
  • Bret Contrevis (the glute guy)
  • Ben Legg (the portfolio career guy) 

A niche focus makes you memorable.

One of my clients, a property agent, wanted to be the No #1 international agent in Berlin. So we positioned him as the ‘Berlin champion’, and put his face on the side of their black cabs so he was visible across the city. He wasn’t afraid to criticise government policy and say why it was harming the housing market so had a reputation as honest and trustworthy. Many of their leads were long-term clients.

How to be a thought leader

Think about your overall strategy and take a high-level overview before you decide on the content mix. What problem are you solving with your product/service? How are you going to get people from A to B? 

Some food for thought on the three types of thought leadership:

  1. Industry (a point of view on news, trends + the future)
  2. Organisational (company culture, talent development) 
  3. Product (how-to, best practices, strategy)

Do all three if you can, and if relevant: develop your point of view and then create content. If you’re overstretched (companies have teams working on this stuff), focus on one area and do it well. It can feel overwhelming for solopreneurs, so start small and be a thought leader for your clients and customers first, to build trust. 

Look at engagement over metrics – time on pages of your website and how many articles people read is more important than views and impressions. 

Thought leadership takes time, energy, consistency and authenticity, but it’s hugely rewarding and can transform your business. It’s not about self-promotion. As Alexandra Galviz (Authentic Alex), #LinkedInLocal co-founder, says: 

It’s not just about sharing your ideas; it’s also about inspiring others into action. 

Thought – give yourself time to think, observe, and horizon scan. Don’t fill every nook and cranny of your day. 

Leadership – have a point of view and don’t say the same as everyone else. 

I disagree with David Soloman, Goldman Sachs CEO, on remote work being an ‘aberration’, but I respect his opinion, and he’s been quoted everywhere. 

Some good advice from Tammy Ammon, Director of Thought Leadership at Acxiom, after a year on the job. 

She spent the first few weeks defining the role and mapping existing pieces of content. Content creation is a huge part of it – a passion for storytelling and strategy. Move through the organisation at all levels to have a broad view and perspective to share with your audience. 

Listen in on meetings, network on LinkedIn, and have monthly chats with your team about issues, no agenda. Manage your time – know what topics need your input and what you can delegate. You can’t do it all. 

Good books: Dorie Clark’s Entrepreneurial You – insights from building a high six-figure solo consulting business, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: the story of success

What’s working for you? Come and share your experiences at the Fireside Chat on 12 November.

Nicci 


🖐5 things

✍️How to create a Wiki in 9 simple steps – a guide and template. Every company needs a Wiki! It helps keep communication open with remote teams. I’m building one for myself – mission, vision, values, culture, tools and processes, passwords, resources for personal development. Great for onboarding, speeds up the day-to-day and focuses your mind.

💸Mirror.xyz – a new tool for writers working on crypto and blockchain. I’ve seen a few posts about this, but not many reviews, so I got on Reddit and Medium – good articles by Tim Denning and Casey Botticello on how it differs from traditional publishing platforms, and how you can make money on it. Exciting! I’ve been trying to sign up but having issues with the website.

💌Newsletters could be the next (and only) hope to save the media. As the journalism industry collapses, writers are turning to newsletters to make money and launch publications. Premium subs are still a tiny part of the market, and writers make money in other ways. I can’t see people paying $10/mo for several newsletters – these little things add up. I subscribe to Every – a bundle of newsletters on work and productivity – like a magazine.

✈️Africa is calling! Cabo Verde has launched a nomad visa to attract 4000 remote workers over the next three years for its DN programme. Ten sunny islands to explore – they’ve had virtually no tourism since 2020. See the best of Cabo Verde on Insta here. The national drink is Grogue, a rum at 60%, which will blow your socks off.

🎧Ways to make working remotely less lonely. It’s not talked about enough, and it’s among the biggest challenges faced by remote workers. Switching off is my biggest challenge, but this is a close second. My clients are global, so there are no team events. My networking is online so I’m going to start a local remote worker group. The team at Flexiple share some creative ways to deal with it – personally, at a company level, and in your community.


Categories
future of work Neuroscience Portfolio careers Wellness

Tame your inner critic🙄

I’ve joined a Newsletter Mastermind, and ‘not feeling ready’ came up on this week’s call. “I’m on my 100th issue, and it’s the same every time – the day before it goes out, and I still don’t know what I’m going to write about. Yet somehow, every week, it gets pushed over the finishing line.” It turned into a discussion on how to be ‘inner critic ready’ led by @ReddyToGo – he’s the man.

I said I’m the same. Working on things last minute (writing this on Saturday night) or running late. I had an argument with a friend once about my lateness, and she said: “It’s because you don’t feel ready.” She was right. I was trying to do too much – hustling hard in London at that time. It’s probably the most helpful thing anyone’s said to me. 

Tame your inner critic

The inner critic mixes negative critical comments from our parents, siblings, peers, and teachers when we were growing up. It isn’t a bad thing, says writer and author Jennifer Nelson“Researchers agree that a little self-awareness can be a reality check, but a constant barrage of self trash-talk is debilitating.”

In her talk on listening to shame, Brene Brown says it relies on you buying into it – tell yourself something often enough, and you’ll eventually believe it to be true. “Shame needs three things to percolate: secrecy, silence and perception of judgement.” 

It can be an issue for portfolio professionals as we’re working on short term projects in new environments with different teams. You’re expected to hit the ground running, be an expert and produce good work quickly. But each project is different and team dynamics and nuances take a while to figure out. You’re learning as you go and you make mistakes. You also have to put yourself out there, pitching for gigs, negotiating rates and dealing with rejection.

The inner critic is a feature of the tricky brain. Unfortunately, we can’t fire them, but they can be an extra rather than centre-stage…


Some strategies to help you deal with your inner critic

(and have a better, more productive relationship with yourself)

  • Give them a name. There are two actors in constant conversation – the nurturer and the critic. Mine is called Nancy. She’s an out of work theatre critic (failed actress, really) who never has a good word to say about anyone, except Cliff Richard. She’s 6”2, wears heels, diamante and a purple wig (a bit Dame Edna). Except she always wears black. @readyforthefuneral. She’s had no work during the pandemic and is taking her frustrations out on me. My nurturers are the Caring Committee – Spock, Jarvis, Oprah, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Mr Miyagi, Gandalf, Sean Bean, & Ted Hastings, who rally around to big me up. Never a dull day! It helps me distance myself from the drama and be a calm witness. 
  • Be mindful. The cure is empathy, says Brene. Say to yourself, “I understand, but those thoughts aren’t true.” And replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I might’. Notice negative thoughts when they come up and write them down. Look for moments in the day when others see the effort you’ve made. Write them down. If the conversation is getting a bit one-sided, I know I’m tired and need a break. 
  • Stop ruminating – I had some negative feedback on a piece of copy this week. It wasn’t quite right, so we had to redo it after a call with the client. A bit disappointing as it’s a new gig and I wanted to make a good impression. I felt a bit flat, thinking about what I could have done better. But I’ve only been on the job for two days and don’t have much context. I let myself replay it for a bit, then distracted myself with something else: went for a walk and watched something on Netflix. Learn and let go.
  • Set deadlines – No over-editing and over-researching, i.e. procrastinating. Anne-Laure at Ness Labs says she only edits her articles once before publishing them. The aim is to get the conversation started and tweak things based on feedback. I like that. Nothing is set in stone online. 
  • Dress smarter – it’s easier to silence your inner critic when you’re looking sharp and feeling good. We had a good discussion at TPC this week on personal branding, and this came up. Fiona’s tip: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. She’s also big on ‘fake it till you make it.’ 
  • Finding your why – LA-based writer, activist and wellness expert Katie Horwitch says the inner critic is a filler for uncertainty about your purpose. Get clear on the common thread in all you do and what you’re offering the world. What’s your story? Workshop it. It’s easier to do this with others than on your own. Others see things in you that you don’t. 

Nancy and I had a bust-up this week. She went off on one when I told her about the project feedback. Then I mentioned my podcast idea – interviewing hip hop entrepreneurs about their lives and work, and she sighed and rolled her eyes. “You don’t have the time, energy or contacts for that. You’re not in that world! Forget it, darling!” 

“Don’t patronise me. That’s the point. I don’t want to interview people like me. We have enough echo chambers out there….I want to do something different. ” 

We’re going for tea with the committee later, so let’s see what they have to say about it.  

She’s not coming on holiday with me (not till she apologises anyway). 


5 things🖐

👩‍💻LinkedIn Marketplace (launching Sept) – a new service for freelancers. Connect with employers, showcase your services, and do deals directly via the platform (initially focusing on design, marketing and software development). Good to see Microsoft investing in developing a bigger content platform with Creator mode, Services, Open to Work, trending stories. A bit of competition for Fiverr and Upwork.

✍️And some great tips from Ben Legg, CEO & Co-founder of The Portfolio Collective, on how to make the most of LinkedIn. Interesting comments on ageism. Noted and actioned! Thanks to Claire Moss for sending her notes. 

👨🏽‍🎤Personal branding. How do you make yourself stand out from a sea of competition? What makes you memorable? It’s much more than your logo. A deep dive into finding your why with brand gurus Fiona Chorlton-Voong and Alex Pitt. More on the inner critic and celebrating your differences. Inspiring to hear Alex’s story on launching her branding agency, Strange. 

💰Self-belief, reinvention and hard work: How to earn £100k+ as a freelance journalist. “I did it. So why not you? I had an end game, creativity and a pathological inability to take “No” for an answer.” Andrew Don on his 40-year journalistic career, self-belief and reinvention in his new book: The Bounty Hunter. His 10 essential ingredients to help you make serious money as a freelancer. 

🇮🇹All the Voices of the NUJ – a project helping international writers who are new to the UK by matching them up with a member who speaks their language. The guest speaker was John Worne, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, who talked about the joy and pleasure of languages. He flagged a few issues members have raised – it’s sad to hear languages aren’t being prioritised in the UK curriculum.

I’m trying to learn French and Italian, and Nancy pipes up frequently with her helpful comments. Along with my secondary school French teacher, Mrs Marchant, who told me not to do it at A-Level as I’d struggle. A fascinating chat about how being bilingual can put you in two minds: having different personalities in each language, and not taking it too seriously. Play with it and have a go🇮🇹


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is your guide to running a successful minimalist business. Start living and working on your own terms🚀 Your weekly dose of inspiration, ideas and solutions.

Question or comment? Fancy doing a guest issue or contributing a section?
Email nicci@niccitalbot.io.
Tip me – this is a one-woman labour of love, all donations gratefully received.
Book a Classified Ad.

To offset the carbon emissions of this newsletter and my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. I encourage you to do the same in your country – here’s a list of climate action groups. We’ve got 10 years to sort this out – no time to waste🌍

Categories
Design Thinking future of work Portfolio careers

The Shift: Reinvent yourself 🤠

My flat is like a greenhouse, so I’ve been working in cafés most days this week. I’m spending more but I need it. Self-care 🙂 To walk to work, be around people and have a chat with the baristas to find out what’s going on in Hastings (a slice of £610m government funding, lightning fibre broadband)⚡️

The Portfolio Collective: ‘The Domino effect is massive and contagious on the site.’

I’ve joined the Portfolio Collective, a startup by Ben Legg, a former COO of Google Europe, global technology CEO, McKinsey consultant and soldier. His mission: Helping entrepreneurs to reinvent themselves and society. There are 300,000 people in the UK with portfolio careers, and 16 million of us have a side hustle, so it’s a rapidly growing way of working. Eight months since launch and they already have 2,000 members. 

I did a couple of free events, decked out my profile, and set up a virtual coffee with the co-founder. The 1-hour Focus workshop is a deep dive into ikigai – the Japanese word for happiness, i.e. your reasons for getting out of bed. Finding the intersection between what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Finding your why and discovering your strengths.

There’s a design-thinking tool called the Odyssey Plan, where you map out three alternative lives you might live over the next five years. There are multiple versions of you and it’s good to remember how fearless and open you used to be as a kid before becoming a serious grown up with a one-person career… 

The Portfolio Collective

If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d say keep searching, there are so many opportunities to design a life you love. Be patient and don’t settle (for men or work!!) out of fear. Create your own roles and don’t be scared to wait for the right opportunity. Know that good things will come and have confidence in your worth 😍 

I think the resources and service they’re providing are brilliant whatever stage you’re at with your career. We all get stuck in a rut and need a shift in perspective which comes from hearing other people’s stories. Never underestimate the power of networking: ‘The domino effect is massive and contagious on the site.’ 

Get signing up and introduce yourself!! They’re looking for community voices to write articles and people to interview for the podcast. Coming soon – the first book club (Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game), and new talent matching opportunities with startups looking for hires 👍
https://portfolio-collective.com/

Here’s my playlist, Iggy-inspired as I could listen to him all day. Dial it up before your next Zoom performance to get you in the mood. No one remembers much of what you say during meetings, but they will remember your funky mug, focus and energy. Let me know if it changes your Zooms.

Happy sunbathing! 😎 🏝
Nicci


Tools for thought 

👨🏽‍💻Interesting report from Contra on the future of freelancing, with six key trends to note – we don’t want to work ourselves to death, portfolio working, charging by the project, top skills required for writers, and the mindset shift from freelancer to creator. I don’t use the term ‘freelance’ anymore as it doesn’t resonate. National Freelancers’ Day needs a rebrand: National Boss Day!

🤓Lockdown Leadership Series: Making Hybrid Work with Clare Josa (imposter syndrome specialist). How to take your virtual teams (and yourself) from surviving to thriving as we move from lockdown into hybrid working. 11 interviews and panel discussions during June. Get your free ticket and you can watch the earlier sessions on replay here.  

📕Brilliant talk with Harriet Minter on her new book: Working From Home. How to plan for the year ahead and balancing soul work with survival work. Ace on money: Have two budgets, ‘ask for the highest figure you can think of without laughing’; procrastination as perfectionism (she had a 10-week deadline and spent three weeks not writing it), & using the Owned, Earned and Paid media model for your networking.

🎙Simon Sinek on Finding Your Why. Why some organisations inspire and others don’t. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Explain your purpose, cause and belief – your ikigai. Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care? It’s worth reflecting on your ‘why’ and making sure it shines through in your comms.

🙆🏻‍♀️Imposter Syndrome – how it affects all of us, and 7 actions to help you overcome it. CEOs most deep-seated fear: ‘Being found to be incompetent.’ How it can create a workaholic and perfectionist mindset, shying away from asking for help and needing to know everything yet never knowing enough. Yep, tell me about it!


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter about humans, technology and wellness. Rethinking how we live, work and play. Weekly curated tools for thought and ideas to share ✍️

Question or comment? nicci@niccitalbot.io
Enjoy the read? Share it on TwitterI run on caffeine and Amaretti biscuits.
Want to be featured? Book a Classified ad. I’d rather promote your products and services first.

To offset the carbon emissions of this newsletter and my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. I encourage you to do the same in your country – here’s a list of climate action groups 🌍