Daniel DiGriz is so smart that after a few minutes of listening to him, you can actually feel yourself getting smarter. Now that is a gift. (Let’s hope it worked.)
The founder of Madpipe, author of All Marketing Is Dead, and self-titled “digital ecologist” (a term he’s had trademarked) has lots of titles, and believes everyone should have a bunch, too, since all social media sites (including LinkedIn) are search engines. Oh, and also because titles don’t matter.
A word about what exactly DiGriz does: He helps clients become thought leaders and create a successful marketing presence in their space—which changes depending on the company. As an external marketing director, he does this through one-on-one coaching, supervision, and training of in-house teams to meet their own marketing needs, which are unique and different from everyone else’s.
Rule #1 of Thought Leadership: Get Over Yourself
The biggest mistake of thought leadership, he says, is this belief that the onus is on everyone else to come to us, read our sites, care about us and what we have to say. In fact, this isn’t about you at all, which is why DiGriz doesn’t spend all that much time talking about himself. It has to do with how you change the world.
“What you are isn’t relevant,” he said. “This is one of the first lessons of thought leadership: It’s not about you. It’s about…what creates a response in the end user.”
Rule #2: Have An Original Idea
Anyone can be a thought leader, says DiGriz. But thought leaders don’t say, “Yeah, what she said!” You have to have a fresh take and original ideas and insights about the industry right now, and how to make things better.
Knowledge after all, is replaceable, he says. It’s why he doesn’t mind sharing it freely via his blog, his podcast, what have you. Experience, however, is not. And the mark of a pro, he says, brings all of that experience to the table with a defined, intuitive skill set.
Rule #3: Know the Difference Between Being in Charge and Owning the Conversation
Another misconception (and an arrogant one to boot) is that whether you’re in charge of a big company or work for yourself, you’re “the boss” and that makes you important. You’re not the boss: The economy is. That ground is always shifting beneath you, and your success depends on how you can adapt to it.
Which brings me to his book, All Marketing Is Dead—because in fact, he says, it is. And this is where a discussion about marketing becomes one about mortality: Because what holds in the Walking Dead is true for business owners: Traditional marketing tactics, even as we use them, are zombies: stiff, slow, awkward, easy to outrun, consumed only with feeding themselves, and must be killed on the spot.
But that doesn’t mean marketing is going away, or that you or I are in any way above it. If you try to excuse yourself from marketing and all its aspects (social media, outreach, etc), you quite simply aren’t a business owner. In other words, marketing is not a tap you turn on when you need it, but a consistent effort, one that you should make for yourself just as you would if you had thousands of shareholders to answer to.
Thought leaders know this, and thus must continue to adapt and update their efforts, annihilate the stumbling zombies from their strategies and instead find ways to make their marketing elastic, intelligent, human, integrated.
To be a thought leader, says DiGriz, ask yourself: “How can I make the world more effective, raise the bar in my industry and improve the way I communicate about it?”
“You can be a thought leader, introduce new concepts and ideas without getting anyone’s permission. If we can do that, we can lead in our fields, change our industries and grow our business together.
(Watch the full interview with Daniel DiGriz on Solopreneur.)
(Also check out DiGriz’s podcast—on this episode, he had me on to talk about why brands need a spokesperson.)