What Book Publishing And Documentary-Making Have In Common For Emerging Thought Leaders
How aiming for the highest possible ‘denominator’ can give aspiring thought leaders an ‘unfair advantage’ over the chasing pack
Throughout the course of running this blog (it’s now several years old), I’ve offered various thoughts on the merits of writing books — a field I’ve been involved in professionally, with clients, for a number of years now.
Recently, I offered a tongue-in-cheek take on the subject, providing four shameless — but valid — reasons to take the plunge into the rough and tumble world of book authorship.
4 Shameless Reasons To Consider Becoming A Book Author
If you need encouragement to get that book idea out of your head and onto the page, then read on
There’s one more reason to become a book author beyond those I articulated in that piece, however. Actually, I touched on it — but the point has wider application than the context through which I explained it so I’m writing this blog to explain it properly.
Put more crudely — and expanded out more widely — it might go something like this:
You should consider becoming a book author because it’s pretty hard to see a book project from inception through to completion.
And that makes you a far rarer commodity than somebody who has a Twitter account, Insta, or Tik Tok.
Leverage The Value Of Scarcity When Choosing Your Communications Approach
For those looking to establish or solidify their reputations as thought leaders, I would therefore recommend something like this:
“If you can write a book, write a book. If you can produce and fund a feature length documentary that’s likely to win plaudits at major film festivals, go through with that plan and you’ll come out the other side famous. If that all sounds like too much work for now, write a blog post and build up your thought leadership the slow way.”
In other words: Shoot as high as you possibly can when choosing how you’re going to package your message.
Because the higher you achieve, the more rarefied you’re going to be within the thought leadership hierarchy. And humans tend to ascribe more value to people who do exceptional things than those who do the mundane. Rarity confers value. So if you’re trying to distinguish yourself from serious competition to “be the authority on [your industry]” aiming at the most difficult level is a good way to achieve that aim.
Now, let’s bring this down to a more mundane and practical level.
Let’s imagine what a hierarchy might look like in the world of text-based communication (recently, I’ve been driving a hard distinction between that, audio, and video on the basis of how they communicate.)
At the bottom we might have posting on Twitter.
For one, Twitter is a ready-to-go SaaS platform.
It requires absolutely no technical skills whatsoever to communicate through, and no outlay of capital to set up on (confer: operating your own website which requires both some technical know-how and a small investment before you can begin publishing there).
Virtually anybody in the internet-connected world can set up a Twitter account in a matter of minutes.
It’s ubiquitous. It’s fiercely noisy because there are so many people screaming at one another on there in 280 character goes.
And from a communications standpoint, the barriers to entry are just about as close to nil as they could be.
Twitter is a great digital notepad for those who have already built reputations. But it’s a difficult platform to break through on for all the above reasons and more.
At the top of the text-based totum pole let’s take writing a book.
That takes a lot more work than sending a tweet.
Although now that Amazon KDP and self-publishing have rendered even achieving this feat relatively simplistic, we need to set our sights slightly higher to truly and credibly distinguish ourselves from others.
What about — counter-intuitively perhaps — courting traditional publishers and trying to get published traditionally?
Again, this provides another means for us to create distance between what we can do and anybody else can.
We could plot out the same steps for video-making projects and for audio ones too: it’s easy to shoot a 10 second Tik Tok video on your phone (even if the potential for virality is still high!). It’s a lot harder to put together a professionally-produced and edited 60 minute feature length production involving multiple locations.
If you’re trying to emerge as a thought leader in a hotly competitive field — as most major tech niches are today — then consider asking yourself “what’s the most difficult way I’m capable of communicating?”
How can I encapsulate my vision and message in a way that’s going to be a lot more difficult for others to emulate?
Once you can carve yourself out into that more rarefied space, you’re going to gift yourself an ‘unfair advantage’ over the competition and make it a lot harder for others to play catch-up.