Wendy Hanson 0:24
Welcome, everyone. I'm so happy you joined us today, I am with a dear friend who I've known for years. Denise Brosseau. And Denise is a thought leader. And and if you look at any of her posts on LinkedIn, you will learn a lot and you'll see that she is a thought leader with many followers. Her work on thought leadership is just so important. And especially for women, more women leaders at the top of companies is her mission statement. That may have also changed over time I got that from a wonderful Google Talk that she did a number of years ago. Thought Leaders are change agents and they realize they have something that they need to share and get out there in the world. Whatever your gender, we need thought leaders build thought leadership, and it's a mission. When you're on a mission that needs to get spread. You need to be a thought leader. And today, Denise is going to tell us about what this looks like and how you can be a thought leader. Because I think we take it for granted that other people are thought leaders but we just do the work. So I think this is an important conversation. Let me tell you a little bit more about Denise as CEO of thought leadership lab, Denise works with leaders and their teams to accelerate their journey from leader to thought leader. She is the author of The Best Selling guide ready to be a thought leader. Look that you can take it right off of her video right there. She's also co taught the first course at Stanford Business School on thought leadership with JD SRAM. Over the last 20 years she has spoken to 10s of 1000s of people at organizations, businesses conferences. Denise is a Wellesley grad and the Stanford MBA. She began her career in the technology industry at companies like Motorola, she even co founded and was CEO of the forum for women entrepreneurs. And it grew now to be watermark, which I'm sure you're all familiar with, especially if you're a woman, it grew into the country's leading organization for women led high growth startups. So Denise, thank you so much for taking the time today for spreading your wisdom.
Denise Brosseau 2:38
So happy to be here. Great to see you, Wendy.
Wendy Hanson 2:40
Yes. So you describe thought leadership as a secret weapon, which I think is very cool. For leaders and especially for women. What do you mean by secret weapon?
Denise Brosseau 2:52
Well, one of the things that I've certainly seen in my career as well as with the many leaders that I've had, the opportunity to work with over the years is that we tend to think of our job as what's on our to do list, right, put your head down, check the list, finish that at the end of the day, you go home, you start off again the next day. But what the mistake that people tend to make is that they don't put impact and influence on that to do list, right. So they're doing very tactical, very sort of next week focused or even next day focused activities, but they're not really thinking about the longer term trajectory of their career. So what I've noticed is that if I can help people to really understand this journey from leader to thought leader, and really understand what it means to gain those skills, gain that mindset and begin those behaviors, that they really can transform their career. Because those of us who are thought leaders, we have more people who want to work with us more opportunities, you know, come our way people want to hire thought leaders they want to work with and for thought leaders, and, of course, many other doors open as well, whether it's speaking or writing or getting your ideas out in the world. So I really advocate, particularly for those who are often getting overlooked to begin this mindset shift and to begin to build these skills and understand what it means to be a thought leader.
Wendy Hanson 4:21
Yeah, one of the things that I know that you're big into also is how do you create your legacy? And I think about, you know, waking up every day, we talk a lot in coaching about taking time to reflect. And it's like, what impact do I want to make today? I love how you're talking about the impact piece.
Denise Brosseau 4:39
Yeah, the impact and the longer term impact would be that legacy, like, is there a way that you're going to be remembered on the project that you're working on in your organization, in your community in your industry? So thinking about that legacy isn't just showing up and again, doing what's what's asked of you? But instead of really thinking about, what is it that needs to happen? What is the future that we're all trying to bring about? What's the transformation or the change underway? And how can you as an individual change agent? Or can your team come together to be bringing forth some best practices, some tools, some, some strategies so that others can move more quickly? That to me, that's, that's a legacy I wouldn't be proud of. And of course, you know, is there a way to begin to document some of that information so that if your team has figured something out, why is the next team having to do it all over again? So we're trying to create a flywheel effect of change? And the only way we do that is if we play our part?
Wendy Hanson 5:42
Yeah. And some people might be sitting back saying, Okay, this is cool. But how do I do this? What are some of the strategies to become? Because people are shy about saying, I'm a thought leader? So what are some of the strategies to get there? And can anybody be a thought leader?
Denise Brosseau 6:00
Yeah, you know, it's great, great set of questions, you know, when we think about it, is that it can be a bit terrifying, right? And on the one hand, we think, how do I get started? On the other hand, we think I don't want to be too much self promotion, I don't want to be, you know, kind of talking about myself all the time. So you know, there is a happy medium, but I find there's a few are folks who are talking too much, and too many folks who are not saying anything. And, you know, we stand to hear the same voices over and we don't hear from the voices that we do you want to hear from which is those who are often the overlooked and the those who are clearly have something to say, but often it's that mindset shift. So what are some of the things we can do, I think one of the key things we can do is, is believe it's possible, that we can take this journey that this isn't for someone else, you don't need a PhD, you don't need to go over top school, you don't need a secret decoder ring. It's, it is absolutely about taking some of these steps is doable for anyone. And I know because I've seen people in their 20s and people in their 80s begin this journey. And so the for me, there's a couple of fun steps, individual things that anyone can do. So I begin with the idea of amplifying. So what do I mean by that? Right? Is there something happening in your company and your team and your organization and your community that others need to know about? Is there a person? Is there an event? Is there? Is there some shift underway? Is there something good happening, that you can bring attention to now, I say, let's not focus a lot on what terrible things are happening. A lot of people tend to be bringing a lot of attention to that let's focus on what are the good things? What is the what is that transformation that's underway that others could learn from? How can we inspire and engage people by amplifying the good so that others want to emulate it? So amplifying is a really good technique. Another good technique is to be a convener. So when you think about thought leadership, what I think about is that, you know, leadership is one to many, we're trying to get people on board to move in a in a singular direction. And often we have some direct contact with them. But when we think about thought leadership, it's sort of another level of meaning that it's not just one to many, which is leadership, it's many to many, how do we get people to pick up our ideas and and share them more widely. That's a different set of techniques. That's a different set of behaviors. And so this idea of how do we get everyone who could come to the table convene people to come to the table to create a shared message, so that when we each go out to our respective communities, we're all saying the same thing, singing out of the same song book, as I like to say, so I think those are two kind of good get started tactics that anyone can do set the table, set the agenda, bring people around, maybe you're not the go to person yet, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't necessarily come together at it as an invite as an inviting.
Wendy Hanson 9:04
Yeah. I love that idea of convening people and just even saying, what what do we have, even if it's our own team? Why don't we have that we want to share with people you know, because I think when we think of amplifying, I often think of like, make sure you're writing enough on social media, you know, but you got to I love the many too many, because that will help people as they go forward. How do we spread this, you're not going to spread it one on one.
Denise Brosseau 9:31
Social media can be dangerous, because if we're just the trumpet, talking, talking, talking, but you haven't really thought about the audience and how we actually get people to follow us is that we need to have some sort of consistent sharing of useful information not just what you had for lunch or blah, blah, blah, you know, for the Negative Nelly stuff that we tend to get ourselves into on social but instead to be really thinking what am I doing to do that you For being that pebble in the pond, what is what's my role? And I think we all have a role to play as any kind of change takes place. So I always use this example of, you know, thinking back when I was younger, the idea of gay marriage being actually ever coming to be possible in this country seemed to be never right. Absolutely never. And yet, over time, many, many, many people, many, many, many conversations many convenings, many people amplifying this idea, many people being safe for the first time to begin to talk about things that no one had talked about. That took a lot of people a lot of transformation over a lot of years, any trait major change is the same thing. And we all have a role to play, whether it's towards a global cause, a social cause, or a transformation that's happening in our community. We all you know, we all come together, when we agree that the way we're doing helping the homeless in our town, or the way we're in our industry, addressing a new technological shift, that is all roles that you can play to move those good ideas forward.
Wendy Hanson 11:12
I love those examples. And especially, you know, how far we've come with being able to look at gay marriage and all that, and, and now, just the whole enlargement of the whole thing that we are all people, and it's kind of gender neutral. And not everybody is going with that. But those are building the movement. Yes. And then you can make a difference not only at work, but in your community, because that might spark people to say, yeah, it's especially homelessness, or, you know, people that are not housed properly. That's one that everybody believes in, and what can you do, I have a friend, Evie, who's out in California, that works for a, a affordable housing, She's the executive director of a how affordable housing group, and I consider her a form of, you know, a thought leader, because she gets out there, she gets politically active, she lets people know what's happening. So it's an important piece that, that everybody can do. And legislation is an important piece of thought leadership, right?
Denise Brosseau 12:15
It's so much of what happens, as we start to shift any society is we have to begin to codify those changes in legislation and regulations. And so being someone who is active in the political sphere is a form to be of thought leadership, and is that documenting things and making a shared agreement. Now, of course, things can also get overturned, like Roe v. Wade, and this last year, which has been, you know, my, my cousin's, for 50 years. So it is a bit, you know, it has been in a cause for 50 years, I've been a part of it for the last 20 years, and just feeling like how frustrating that things are going backwards, that can also happen. And as thought leaders, we have to, we have to remember that this is a long path, that this is a journey and that we we are a part of that any transformational change in an industry and an organization and a community and thinking about how we pass the baton, that often we get burned out, but who else can pick up that baton and carry it forward? That that is a piece that we that we overlook as one of the parts of our journey and looking around us and building that that network of folks who are going to take our ideas and carry them to the next step.
Wendy Hanson 13:25
Yeah. Because that's veterans that have been around for a while, you know, there's going to be other things that need to take our attention that we can, I love that there's, there's so many excited young people that really want to make a difference. And we need to give them the tools to be able to do that. And more. So the confidence, you know, you could have in your 20s, you can be a thought leader.
Denise Brosseau 13:49
Confidence and the microphone and one of the other really wonderful tactics. So those who are further along in their journey, or those who have a platform is to share that microphone with others who are under an underserved under heard, and those who really need that voices at the table. And so, you know, a couple years ago, there was this wonderful full day event on Instagram, where Julia Roberts and a number of people with these enormous platforms actually gave a full day of access to leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement. And those leaders had a chance to come and say anything on social media on that platform for a day. And so they got to really share their ideas widely and of course, build their own followers. So this idea of sharing your microphone is a very powerful tool that leaders of all levels and genders should be thinking about who who is coming behind me that I need to be able to find who do who needs that microphone that is nobody's listening to.
Wendy Hanson 14:51
Oh, I love that. Yeah. And you do a lot of work with senior leaders right now. You know, you do a lot of coaching. What are some of the things that you're Hearing now related to this, because it is a difficult time in business right now, yes,
Denise Brosseau 15:06
it is a difficult time. And in some ways, these layoffs is really a good thing because I hate to be selfish, but it does get people to begin to think, oh, I need to be building my brand, I need to be thinking about thought leadership, because they need to differentiate, they need to stand out from the crowd.
And the way we do that is by crafting a point of view, sharing our knowledge and our expertise. And that's all part of that journey. So I think of the journey is we start by building a brand differentiating ourselves from everyone around us getting known for a particular perspective. But then the second step of the journey is building the respected expert profile, meaning that I'm known for what I know, what is it my knowledge, my expertise, my experience, and that is a really critical component of finding that next role. And then the third piece is really sort of that thought leader or global citizen, and the thought leader is someone who's often moving forward being that pebble in the pond, in their industry around a transformational issue within a particular technology, or public health change, or whatever. Whereas global citizen is often that person who's working on homelessness, or working on diversity and inclusion, things like this, that may be a little more intangible, but are equally a cause that matters to them.
And so I think we often take that step. So step by step, how is your brand, I should ask all of our listeners, you know, thinking to yourself? Have I differentiated myself from every other person with my background? And then second is do people know what I know? Do people know what my expertise is? Have I defined that and clarified that? And then third, have I developed sort of that point of view and that perspective of where the world is going? And what where do you want to be that pebble in the pond?
And is it as a global citizen? Is it as a thought leader, and really, it's beginning to take those steps of shifting the mindset, but often shifting the behaviors that it takes to be more regularly out there with your ideas and creating that point of view and brand voice that people begin to recognize and identify with you?
Wendy Hanson 17:14
Yeah, the personal brand that I bet you, there's so many people that don't think about that, you know, what would what is your personal brand and to spend some time reflecting on that, because as you say, at this time, when there's so many layoffs out there, you have to know your brand, you have to know how you show up. Because that's going to be really important to be able to get the job that you want. We do a Women's Leadership Program at BetterManager. And one of the things is being able to have that if you get in an elevator with somebody, it's really like your elevator pitch. But how do you present yourself? Oh, you may be in with somebody very important going up an elevator? And how do you describe yourself? So they're gonna say, wow, you know, this is somebody I want to continue a conversation with?
Denise Brosseau 18:00
I think we kind of get shy sometimes. Yeah, of course. And so the more we practice it, and the more we are in ourselves interested in it, but it's not something we're so wrote, and everybody's falling. You know, I try to I try to tell people to say things like, you know, I'm, I'm a change agent at the intersection of X, Y, and Z. Right? That can be something that kind of anyone can say. And it's something that you could remember SOA, and it's short, so maybe somebody else can remember it, too. So I do think that we want to be a little bit intriguing. We want somebody to want to ask a question, not go, Oh, that's nice. Next, up here.
Wendy Hanson 18:44
And I love that because it's kind of like a mini story. You know, I'm a change agent at the crossroads of this. Yes. And what inspires you on a regular basis to keep going at this? What are some of your stories of inspiration with having done this work for so long?
Denise Brosseau 19:02
You know, what really inspires me is certainly my clients, they, they were all doing such diverse things. And I love to learn. So whether I'm working with somebody who is really in engaged in a transformational project in Rwanda, or somebody who is working in Silicon Valley here on trying to get people to collaborate more effectively, or I'm working with a leader who's a chief, people officer in the financial services industry, who's trying to get change to happen in her field. Each time I talk with one of these clients, I'm learning about that field. I'm learning about what they care about, and what what matters in their particular field. But then I'm also seeing that shift during the time we work together as we begin to put in place some of those particular building blocks of thought leadership as I think about it, figuring out what your niches begin bring out what your point of view what your brand voice is. So giving out the future you're working towards as we dig in to those important questions, which can be challenging and difficult to particularly to try to do by yourself. But as a as a thought partner to people on that. And then as I see them begin to implement their strategy over a period of time, building that reputation and building that followership, I start to see personal transformation as well, right, they gain confidence, they gain more respect from those around them. And they also gain an understanding of what to do, instead of feeling stuck or feeling unsure about what to do. Now they have a plan, and they have some, they have a clear message that they can pull out at that moment, when somebody's in the elevator with them. If somebody stuck a microphone in their face, they're ready, like they have their three key points that they want to always be sure to reinforce. That, to me is really transformational. And of course, then to see something move forward to they get a book deal, or they get invited to the TEDx stage, or they get invited to, they get a promotion, whatever it might be, that they're gearing towards, and often things they never even thought could happen. You know, they're teaching a class at their local university, or they have an invitation to be on a comedian, that federal level, I mean, those kinds of things don't happen when you're stuck home, right, doing your to do list. So that's, that's what keeps me going. They they inspire me every day. And of course, I also love to share this knowledge that I've gained over many years about this journey, right, that this is something that most people don't understand. And it isn't, no, it's not impossible to learn. That's part of the reason I wrote this book is seven steps. Pretty, pretty straightforward. And so I've got, you know, I tried to teach courses, I try to speak on this, I try to work with people, because like everyone, I'm driven to leave my legacy and to provide people that use these tools.
Wendy Hanson 21:57
And you do such a great job of the convening piece of bringing everybody together to do that. You have a course on LinkedIn learning Correct?
Denise Brosseau 22:05
I actually have two now. So I have a course on for individuals, how can you as an individual, be a thought leader? And then I have a second course, that's on organization. So how can organizations be seen as thought leaders? And how can individuals in those organizations drive their drive that change or transit usually it's a change in behavior and attitude, because many organizations don't see themselves that way. And are indoor are stuck in marketing in sales, thinking instead of thought leadership thinking? So anyway, that's the second course now, and both of them are doing really well. So I'm very pleased.
Wendy Hanson 22:39
Good, good. Yes. We're getting people out there to talk about this. One question that comes out up for me is, there's so many folks that say, Well, I'm an introvert, you know, I don't think I can get out there. And we know that introverts have so much going on, and so many things to share. They just, you know, what, what advice would you give somebody who says, Oh, I just couldn't do this. That's not I'm not an extrovert. I'm not gonna go out and talk to everybody.
Denise Brosseau 23:07
What would you learn you notice that both of those techniques that I taught started with neither one of them, you need to be an extrovert to do right, you can amplify the best of the best in your field or your industry, just as well as an introvert as you can as an extrovert, as long as you start to think and I'll add the sort of second layer to that is you're thinking about adding your own perspective and your own point of view. So here's the best event Well, why is it the best or here's the top five people you need to follow? Well, why wouldn't you add your why there, now you've added your value. Again, not about introvert extrovert. Similarly, being a convener in some ways is a very successful strategy for introverts being the one who sets the table and sets the agenda, you can be a bit in the background, and then you write correct and maybe you have someone else who's actually leading the meeting, but your pre planning to make sure that the topic is going to be covered and the way that you think it needs to we're going to cover you know, the whole Millea that you're thinking about. So I think both of those are really good introvert strategies, as is, by the way, being a good writer is a very much an introvert, I wish I was more of an introvert, I would get my second book done, right? I need to be somebody who likes to be home writing instead of out, you know, talking to people. So I think that there's some advantages in this thought leadership journey. And it's somebody who is less about the external isn't is also less about getting all the credit that can be also very helpful about leadership. But this should not be all about look at me Look at me, it should be about being that pebble in the pond. And so it is about instead thinking about the longer term change underway, the longer term impact.
Wendy Hanson 24:47
Yeah. And as you alluded to, we're so fortunate as coaches, coaching executives, because we learn all the time and pass it on. It's like a seed. You know, I talked to some Somebody who tried this with their team? And how would you make that your own? So I think that that way that people can get things and share things. And we're in a good position to be doing that, because we're fortunate to learn from so many people.
Denise Brosseau 25:15
Oh, Wendy, you're so absolutely right. And because I've been doing this for 12 years now, you know, I do have a lot of people who I've worked with, who have tried a lot of different things. And so I can say, Have you ever thought about this? And you know, okay, and if you're going to try this, here's maybe one thing to think about or avoid, right? Because we've been there, but really just often for you, and I, it's planting the seed Have you ever thought about, and then they're like, never occurred to them, I should totally be doing that. And the Off they go, right, but they needed that jumpstart, and that's the really the role that we can both play.
Wendy Hanson 25:47
Yeah. Yeah. And, and coaching, you know, it's, it's getting to be much more mainstream in many ways. But still, people don't realize that having this thought partner, is really can change your life, you know, in such a way, as, as you said, doing and sitting by yourself. And I'm a good example of that, sitting by myself and trying to figure something out is not is not a good look for me, you know, I can come up with some things. But, you know, it's like, sitting by yourself and other people, they want to sit by themselves and do it. But yeah, we get to learn so much, we get to push so much ahead. And we at BetterManager, we call it directed coaching, so all of our coaches are certified, they know coaching techniques, they follow them, but then they make some suggestions. You know, just like you said, Have you ever thought of this? And and that has been feedback that we get is that that is the most helpful? Because you don't know what you don't know.
Denise Brosseau 26:48
Yeah, and you can sit and stew and spin and spiral. And as an executive coach, I cannot watch that. I mean, it's too painful. Alright, Friday, there's people need to do a bit. I'm not to say I'm gonna take away all that pain, but it is good. I do want to jumpstart you to a new different way of thinking that is going to help you and often it's just a small shift in perspective that they've never, you know, they're so sure that this is the way and then you're like, well, we'll just turn a little bit to the left. What about if you looked at it this way? I think that can be in most enormous gift. Yeah, yeah.
Wendy Hanson 27:23
So how can people learn more about you and get to connect with you more? Certainly buying your book is a good thing.
Denise Brosseau 27:30
I love it. Thank you. Yes, of course. And then, you know, looking up the courses on LinkedIn learning, if you just search by my name Denise or so. But also visit my website, I have everything. And more on my website, I one of these who's Oh, I've got this resource. And that resource. I've got pages of wonderful resources. And my website is thought leadership lab.com. So those are all great places to find out about my speaking about my coaching all the rest. And you know, it's just such a pleasure to get to go out and talk about what you love to talk about. Being a thought leader about thought leadership is kind of a weird meta thing to be. So I appreciate your giving me this opportunity to share some of these ideas. I'm what we hope for, for 2023 and beyond is that, that people just shift that mindset a little to know that they can be and probably are already on this journey. And there's a next and inviting next step for them to take. And my hope is that if they're looking for some help, that they'll give a call, or they'll look for some resources from one of the two of us. Yes.
Wendy Hanson 28:33
And we've done a podcast before if anybody wants to look back on the building BetterManager is about Simone Biles, and you had such wisdom about that, of how to look at that and how we need it all to be more, there's a great article that you wrote there. So people should check that out. Because that was great. And, and check out the podcast because you'll hear Denise's wisdom about that. And there's there's people that really need to have their stories told, and we need to always explain the why, right? Everything in life is about this set. But here's why. Why it makes a difference because it may go through somebody's head and not through the Wi Fi filter. You know. You put that in a lot of people, but some people got left out of the Wi filter. So we want to make sure that happens. I love it. Thank you, Robbie, thank you so much for being with me today. And thank you all for listening. I hope this was as as exciting for you as it was for me to be able to talk to Denise and in the show notes. You'll find ways on how to how to get in touch with her and really make, you know, think about that journey as a thought leader. And whether you're a woman whether you're you know, whatever gender, it's, we need this. We need this, especially this year. This 2023 is going to be an important year for us all to take a stand and really look at How how we can have impact in our little world. Because those pebbles in the pond if we keep dropping them, we're gonna make a big difference. So thank you all so much for joining us and hopefully you'll tune in next time. Thank you. Bye bye.
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