6 Confidence-Boosting Tricks To Help You Become A Thought Leader In 2023

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Jess Ekstrom Dec 29, 2022

Woman speaking on a podcast into a mic

Here’s a realization that took me way too long to realize: the most important thing you own is the story you already have.

So often we’re brainstorming and thinking of a big revolutionary idea or a career change that will catapult us into a life of fulfillment, but I’m a big believer that your own personal story can help you make a living and make a difference at the same time (isn’t that the golden overlap we’re all looking for?).

I started my speaking career in 2012 by begging my college professors to let me speak in front of the class for five minutes to talk about my new startup, Headbands of Hope. I later realized that I could make more of a difference (and turn it into a career) by speaking about my story and what I learned to help the audience, not just throw out an elevator pitch for my business.

Now, I speak all over the world as a Forbes Top Rated Speaker and I have two bestselling books: Chasing the Bright Sideand Create Your Bright Ideas.

But if there’s one blaring reality that I’ve found on stages and on shelves, it’s this: we need more women out there as thought leaders. According to Bizzabo, only 30% of speakers are women. And according to Tagari, only 24% of published authors are women.

That’s why I started Mic Drop Workshop in 2018, an education company with the sole purpose of training women to become paid keynote speakers and authors. Tens of thousands of women on stages later, I’d say we’re pretty good at it!

If you want to get your wheels turning as to how you can become a thought leader in 2023, here are some ideas:

1. Develop A Personal Brand

One of the first things you should ask yourself before stepping into a career of thought leadership is this, “what do I want to be known for?” The clearer you are on the transformation you want to provide people, the easier it is to build a thought leader career around that one idea. And, the more you embrace and own your specialty, the easier it will be to find audiences that crave your message, identify you as a thought leader in your field, and build a following.

2. Get Speaking Engagements

Speaking is back and booming post-pandemic. People are craving connections and inspiration. Not to mention, companies and events are sitting on budgets that they haven’t used in the past three years and are looking to hire women speakers! You don’t have to be an expert to be a speaker, you just have to ask yourself: what have I learned in my story to help others in their story?

Curious about pursuing a speaking career? Mic Drop Workshop is the perfect starting point to get you from the sidelines to the stage.

3. Be A Guest On Podcasts

Just like books, podcasts are another form of media that audiences consume for insight, information, and inspiration. Guest starring on podcasts is a great way to share your thought leadership and build your personal brand. Find podcasts that align with your brand and pitch yourself to the host. Be prepared to touch on some of the key takeaways that you feel define your brand so that listeners are inspired to find your social and hit follow.

4. Coaching And Consulting

Turn your fans into clients and channel your expertise into a coaching or consulting business. Through coaching, you can expand on the concepts you care about to help people in a more personal, hands-on way. Consulting is another income-generating avenue to leverage your expertise and help brands through the content you’ve already written about on social media.

5. Go Live

We don’t need a TED stage or a national talk show to reach people. You have that nifty device that fits right in your pocket where you can hit live anytime you want on Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook. Going live is a great way to pull back the curtains and talk to your people, no matter your audience size. Tip: go live with another thought leader so you cross promote audiences!

6. Publish A Book

Publishing a book takes a significant amount of time, effort, thought, and content, but it can also be a great way to make a huge splash in your thought leadership career. After I published Chasing the Bright Side, my audience grew and so did my speaking business with more inbound leads and I was able to charge higher rates with this new stamp of credibility as an author.

If you’re looking to publish a book and have zero clue where to begin (I had no idea either), I put together a quick free training so you can get started.

Remember, your voice and your story matter, even if imposter syndrome is telling you they don’t. Event planners, audiences, and your future readers are looking for someone just like you to guide them with your story.

At the end of the day, thought leadership is about using your life experiences to help others navigate their life experiences. And most importantly, we need more women and diverse voices using these microphones, stages and book pages to share their story and serve others.

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