How To Think Like A Thought Leader

Let’s break the term “thought leader” down into two parts before we discuss it: (1) thought – “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind.” In order to have thoughts on a subject, you’d need to know about said subject. You’d need to study it or at least be familiar with it. (2) leader – “an organization or company that is the most advanced or successful in a particular area.” This part is relatively self-explanatory. I won’t elaborate on leadership since I already have here, here, and here.

Wikipedia defines a thought leader as:

thought lead·er – individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.

So, said another way, a person who has unique thoughts on a particular subject due to their expertise AND whose opinion is looked to for guidance. Now that we have a clear understanding of the definition of a thought leader, we can proceed with how to think like one.

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When Change Is Counterproductive: The Exception vs. The Rule

Teaching “The Close”

Training sales people was one of the most rewarding parts of my job at the furniture company. Every six weeks (or so) I would receive a fresh batch of hires needing to learn how to sell furniture. If they didn’t sell, they didn’t earn a paycheck. Because of this unforgiving logic, I considered my time with them imperative.

Furniture University (FU for short) was often filled with people who had never sold anything for money. They had been on the job for a few days or, at best, a few weeks learning the processes and products. The ones who “got it” ate up the material. The ones fearful of rejection found an excuse for everything I taught.

The process that I focused on was one of specific dialogue. It was wrought with one-liners, questions, and strategy (I can’t take credit for the sales process, that came from my teacher/employer/mentor; the real salesman). The coup de grâce of this sales process was the closing question:

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Using Pattern Recognition To Improve Customer Service

Using Pattern Recognition To Improve Customer Service

My trip to CLT from JAX started off typical: cramped, hot, and teetering on the brink of late. We boarded on time, but the plane was small. Everyone had seats, but there wasn’t ample space for luggage. No worries; I had a window seat and we’d be taking off shortly.

The baggage, and people, found appropriate homes and we braced to push back. After all, that’s what happens when the door shuts and everyone is buckled up. Except, we didn’t.

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Perfecting Your Craft When You’re Not Practicing Your Craft

perfecting your craft when you're not practicing your craft

I did it as an experiment. My schedule would soon change and I would have less time to focus on the things I wanted to work on. My attention would be drawn in many new directions, none of which faced my writing.

Writing had become my craft. Some people play music, some paint, and I wrote. Though my schedule was changing, I still wanted to continue honing the craft I’d come to love.

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Success In Spite Of Failure

People contact me regularly to guest post on the blog. Most of the time, this attempts are weak and irrelevant to what I share on the blog. However, this one stuck out.

I discuss chasing your dreams, failure, and perseverance regularly. This infographic speaks directly to these topics and is a great reminder that no matter what failures you think you’ve gone through, you’re not alone. Remember, success is closer than you realize.

Please enjoy this piece from Essay Tigers:

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Unintentionally Practicing Stoicism (The Demise Of My Station Wagon)

Unintentionally practicing stoicism

I have to thank Tim Ferriss for getting me into this. He’s had me thinking about stoicism for months. It started when he recommended Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle Is The Way, some time ago. During the book, Ryan mentioned Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. After that, Tim began sharing Seneca’s letters via his podcast. I consumed all of it, but I didn’t feel a change.

Some books hit you at just the right angle + time + mood and change your life. None of these resources altered my way of thinking but they did reinforce a mindset I adopted from playing competitive sports. Football coaches preach, “Nothing is as good as it seems. Nothing is as bad as it seems.”

They usually say this when players get too excited or too upset as an attempt to level a player’s head. It can be used for both sides of the argument, but I find myself using it more when things go wrong. Good coaches know the best players are the ones who remain focused in all situations – good or bad. I was raised to think like this, but it’s easier to write about than to apply.

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How To Use Discipline To Execute Strategy

“One minute to start!” said the announcer over the loud speakers.

I clicked my Nike running watch to “Stopwatch” mode. I wiped my sweaty brow one last time before the gun fired and I took a gulp of muggy, Charleston, SC air before forcefully exhaling.

My warm-up felt good, my shoes were broken in, and it looked like the rain would hold off long enough for me to run a dry race. There was nothing left to do but set my 10K (6.2 miles) personal record. Or, as runners refer to it, “PR.”

“Ten seconds to start,” boomed the announcer. “Good luck runners!”

It didn’t matter that I had run the Cooper River Bridge Run six previous times, I still had butterflies. My training, though grueling and thorough, was solo. This was a competition – something I hadn’t done in a while.

“Three… Two… One…!” The starting gun fired and I raced South with 40,000 fellow runners, walkers, and joggers.

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The Quickest Way To Get Your First Hundred Email Subscribers

I began collecting emails for my book launch a year in advance. During casual conversation I would mention what I was working on. If someone seemed interested, I would offer to add their email address to my list. I added one or two at a time, nothing magical about the process, but the list grew steadily.

I had collected my first 100 emails by the time I made first contact with the list – roughly six months in advance. My website was live, the Facebook page was streaming with content, and launch day was in my sights. I shifted my focus to using social media channels instead of leveraging personal connections to gather emails. I directed people to my website and I showed off all the fancy promotional pieces I had been working on. The list’s growth was slower than sap running from a Maple Tree in winter.

As the months passed I could see the book launch coming into focus. Extensive research told me that my email list would be the most important part of launch day; the bigger the list, the more books I could sell because I had their undivided attention. But my list’s growth was still unimpressive.

Finally, after I tried everything in my bag of tricks, I went back to what got me started. I started scrolling through my phone and individually texting people to ask if they’d join my list. Results were… fantastic!

I kicked myself for not sticking with this. Not only were people quick to respond, over 90% of them said they’d join my list. It grew by 50% by the time I scrolled to “Z” in my phone. Then I took it a step farther and asked a few of my true fans to send out their own text messages. I knew they deeply cared about the project and/or me and they would be willing to help. I wrote up a simple text that read:

Hey ______, my friend Mike McCann is writing a book set to launch this fall & I think you’d enjoy it. He asked if I knew anyone who was generous enough to consider joining his email list for pre-launch updates. Of course, I thought of you. It’s a true story of hope set around his 2005 college football team. If you’d like to join, send me your email or check out If not no worries, just thought you might like the book. Take care!

I asked those influencers (four or five of them) to text some of their friends and family. The strategy continued to work. When the experiment was complete, the list had grown over 150%.

My conclusion, and my advice to you, is two-fold.

1) Start with your warm market before asking strangers to join your list. If you can’t get someone who knows you to sign up, your idea needs tweaking before it’s released to the masses.

2) The latest techniques and technology are not always the most effective tools. Sometimes low-tech options are the most effective. Do not rule them out until you have tried them.