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June Top Tier IE Meetup: Thought Leadership

Cerius’s top interim executives get together to talk about thought leadership, the types of content they can create, and how to leverage it.


Kristen McAlister:

We’re going to kick it off, then individuals can join.

I think the topic today of becoming a thought leader, we picked it because we’re seeing a lot of fluidity with executives who are going into roles on a permanent basis, interim, they exited a company and they’re looking at becoming an interim executive.

And one of the things that we recommend to everyone is whether you’re in a role or out of a role, not in an interim role is that thought leadership. That’s really the thing that’s consistent when you look at building your network and making sure that whatever role you want to go into next, including if you want to do board work, board of directors, or advisory work, the more thought leadership pieces you have out there, the more you’ve written a book on it, the more awareness you’re creating. So we’d pick this and since it was a bit more overarching for our network.

Let’s start off with who Cerius is. We have executives who have applied to our network and aren’t exactly sure who we are. They haven’t yet attended an introduction meetup, which if you haven’t, I strongly recommend it. A lot of updates on what’s going on with Cerius. And essentially, we’re a matchmaker. We take companies, as Pam mentioned, she was just on the phone today with the CEO of a food and beverage company. And they call us when they have problems.

I think I’m going to steal a tagline that says, “no one calls us just to say hello.”

They call us when they’re in pain, when there’s a problem, and they want to talk. We’ll talk through anything. It used to be that in 20, 30 minutes, we could get the low down. We knew what they needed, and those conversations are now going one, one and a half, two hours for us to really get a handle on what’s going on in their business. And what background and expertise do they need in order to get resolution.

So we’re that matchmaker that really understands what a business is, where it wants to go, what they need, and then matching that with your expertise, your backgrounds. So the more that we can engage on these types of conversations and in a variety of topics, the more we get to know you, I think, you know, Chris, how many times have you talked to Bill?

We had a meetup about what is your expertise? Chris said to Bill, “Wait a minute, you’ve moved 14 manufacturing plants? How am I just learning that is something that you have expertise in?”

We have these events for a number of reasons, obviously one of the silver linings of COVID. And I think Gail can attest: you really can’t network morning, noon night, midnight 24/7, because I think you do with all of the same meetings and not reading to get in our cars.

And this has been something that we’d want to do for years. Take thousands of executives we have in our network over the last 15 years. How do we get them together? And this has been one of those ways is through these types of meetups and even more in the future. I know our team can’t get enough of them, even though we’re on Zoom all day long. They want to do more of that because they get to talk with groups like this.

And what we expect for you to come out of today and call it Share, Learn, Connect.

Share your experiences for others to learn from.

Learn what may work for you. You may get some best practices.

Connect well with other interim executives on this call, as well as our team.

Now I’ll tell you, Pam and I are not the stars of the show and the ones you want to connect with. It’s the Krista, the Ida, the Abby. It’s the individuals who are looking at what a client needs and reaching out and saying, we want to talk to you.

So from there, I’d love to do a state of the market. We on this call probably get to talk to a couple of hundred CEOs a year and a couple of hundred executives a month. So we get that overarching view and always love to share. Chris, why don’t you lead off and give us an idea of what’s your pipeline look like, roles and industries, and what types of CEO conversations, and then we’ll go to Pam.

Chris Shepard:

Yeah, thanks, Kristen. So I have a good mix right now. My pipeline of everything from finance, operations, sales and marketing, general leadership. So while the roles and disciplines are different and the industries are different, one of the things that seems to be the same across all of them is that they’re needing people quickly.

Speed is a really big thing that I’m hearing from a lot of executives right now. Whereas before it might’ve been, “Hey, over the course of the next few weeks, we need to find this.” And now it’s, “I’ve got someone leaving on Friday, who do you have that can come in on Wednesday?” So the speed of it has been the really consistent thing and meetings like this help us be faster at placing the right people on the right project. So I really appreciate you being here today.

Pam Wasley:

I’m doing a ton in manufacturing right now just did a very large job in the automotive industry. And again, shipping is a problem. I mean, unfortunately, manufacturers don’t understand how to fix the problems and Bill, you know what I’m talking about here, you’ve experienced it. They just don’t how to fix it. And they’re losing money, but they continue to just do the same things.

Yes, Ricardo, I see that you’re shaking your head. Yes. You know exactly what I’m talking about. They continue to do the same things over and over and they’re not fixing the things.

So by the time they get to us, it’s like, “Who you got? I need somebody like yesterday.” So yes. Speed is of the essence right now.

And another area is HR. Think about it. Employees are coming back to work and some of them don’t want to. They like the flexibility of being remote some of the time.

They’re scared yet because they keep hearing about this new Delta version of the virus. And they’re not ready to come back. And companies are trying to determine “how do I handle this?”

I talked to a company yesterday, an environmental business, and she put together a plan, talked with their leadership team and they came up with kind of what they should do, which they’re going to bring some people back on a part-time basis only.

Because her worry is, If I force these people to come back and not want to, they’re going to go get another job. And because 40 to 50% of the employees out there today, they’re looking for new jobs. They want an employer that’s going to take good care of them. Give them the flexibility and the family time.

Their views have changed since the pandemic. I mean, big time. I can just imagine, but I’d imagine everybody in this room, something in your life changed during the pandemic. So it’s happening with everyone now. So again, these are just some of the things I’m seeing, but Chris’s right. They don’t want to wait two days. They want somebody now because they’re desperate.

Kristen McAlister:

And that’s the 40% of that workforce looking and considering switching a job. The latest stat I saw was that 25% of them will, 25% of the workforce will switch jobs this year. That’s what we’ve been seeing over the past six months: “I need someone in here to do onboarding and training by Wednesday because my controller or CFO or COO was leaving on Friday.”

That’s the other thing that we’ve seen: the first six months of the year have been heavy finance, accounting, even full-time. I talked to someone yesterday and she said her former employer called her and said, “name your price.” In the direct hire world executive search, the salaries are going up and up and that’s where individuals like yourselves are really key to advising right now.

And some of the things, as we talk about thought leadership, we always like to open with, what’s on CEOs’ minds, because as you think about what is your expertise and what makes sense to write about, talk about being an expert when applying it to the challenges that CEOs are in today or prospects are in today, it resonates a lot more, it gets shared a lot more and it’s easier to distribute out there.

The other thing that I think we’re going to see, Pam hit on it, that returned to work: HR. I spoke to a couple of recruiters recently, and they are starting to get requests for HR – HR managers, HR executives – to be able to do not just the blocking and tackling, but also the offensive: we need to do market studies right now and do retention bonuses.

We can’t lose 25% of our workforce this year, especially at the leadership level. How do we retain them more than ever? So I think that HR and operations efficiencies, but supply chain over the next couple of months is going to be needed, even we’ve been trying to figure it out internally for the last six months.

As Pam said, they’re done trying to figure it out. They’re starting to give up. And again, they don’t call us to say hi, that calls when they’re in pain and they need someone now.

So one of our goals of these sessions is really to help you figure out how do you explain what you do well. First of all, how do you explain what an interim executive is? That’s one of the toughest things we all have is explaining to CEOs why does an interim executive and how is it that someone can step into your company, fix things and then leave? It’s a very foreign concept. So the more that we’re able to explain it, rather than the mechanics of we step in, we do it, we step out; here’s our expertise and we’re loaning you our expertise. And thought leadership is such a great way to show what you do well, and the impact that you can have in an organization.

The better your (and our) network and prospects understand the expertise, the more they’re going to think of us and contact us when they need it.

Being successful is beyond just being the best at what you do. The absolute best COO can do relocations asleep, but if people don’t know that you’re the best at that, or don’t know about you or us, it doesn’t do us much good and they’re not going to remember us or know about us when the need arises.

So in our experience one of the most valuable tools – and we’ve got Seth joining us today who is our fractional CMO (we use our own model) – is thought leadership, and that’s something to be able to say, we’re putting the information out there and are the thought leader on it.

And I’d say, think of thought leadership as free advertising, we can’t go into forums or on LinkedIn and post “here’s what I’m the best at” or post a resume, but we can post articles. We can post information that’s of value. And would not expect anyone to come out of this meeting saying, “a book, that sounds perfect, I’m going to go kick the book on it. I’ll send you a copy and it will be published in six months.”

We picked three pretty simple things where there’s a lot of avenues out there to create them and really show off your expertise. And that is case studies, articles, and speaking engagements.

Can you do all three? No. So we’ll walk through breakouts and, we call these meetings your advisory board, use your advisory board in the breakouts to figure out what is your expertise, which channel makes sense for you, and how are we going to get it out there. And maybe even crowdsource individuals on this call and connect with them afterward because those who are here can also help distribute and get the information out there and introduced to networks.

The other thing is finding your comfort zone. What are you most comfortable with? Speaking engagements may not be great if you prefer not to be in front of individuals. Speaking engagements may not be the preferred means if you have no problem getting introductions, you were introduced to ten CEOs last month, but not one of them hired you. So it may be that you’re having a challenge, conveying your value. That’s where a speaking engagement versus an article or a case study will depend on what you want to accomplish and where your bottleneck currently is.

So with that, I’m going to turn it over to Seth Avergon of Avergon Marketing, to kick us into our first breakout.

Seth Avergon:

For the first breakout, we’re gonna have you guys get into your groups and just think about which one you want to pick to start with. So as Kristen mentioned, case studies, article development, or speaking.

I’ve seen clients go out and say, “I’m going to do all these things. I’m going to start Tweeting every day. I’m going to start microblogging, doing articles.” You can’t. So what I’m going to recommend is that you pick one thing and you may try for a little while, and you may decide after a certain period of time, you’re going to try it for a quarter, then you’re going to switch to something else.

But for today, for this first breakout, what we’d like to do is have you get together and just talk about which one you’re going to pick to start with. So let’s be a little clearer on what they are.

In terms of case studies, if you’re, you’re telling the story of what you did, you’re telling the story of this was the situation, this was the problem, this is what I did, this is the results. It’s got a little bit of format to it.

Articles are much looser. You can rant, you can talk about whatever. You can talk about something that’s pissing you off, that’s just not being done right. You can do whatever you want with an article. So that’s a little looser.

And then of course speaking engagements are you talking about something you’re passionate about and having something that’s down to you know how many minutes it’s going to take you to get through it, you can present it to someone and say, I’m going to talk about the five tips for X, I can do it in 25 minutes, and then I’ve got a Q&A.

So think about those three tools. We’re going to go into our breakout and you’re going to think about which works best for you and why. So take time to introduce yourselves and get to know each other as well. Thank you.


** Breakout #1 **


Seth Avergon:

What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna go around and we’re going to recap what you talked about. So what I’m looking to hear from individuals is who decided on what and why you decided that and how are you going to leverage it?

So we had Bill and my group, and he already had existing articles. So now we’re looking at, okay, he can do refreshes for 2021. He had one article in particular was very popular that he can do a refresh on, repost that out again, do a new title on it, and then also email it out to several of his contacts to past clients, past opportunities, just to remind them about him.

So taking existing content, repurposing it, and then redistricting apples on LinkedIn and out to some of his past clients to remind people in his database as well as potentially even shopping around to some local publications that might want to cover it, because they’re always looking for content, especially if they don’t have to pay for it.

So Chris, you want to talk about your group? What happened and who did what?

Chris Shepard:

Yeah. Sounds good. So in my group were Michelle, Ricardo, Ida, and myself. Michelle needs us to fast forward to breakout number three. She is here for breakout number three. Michelle is a very seasoned, experienced executive. I think if I wrote it down correctly, you’ve had 65 roles in 31 different industries.

Michelle Diamond:

Yeah, 65 companies and 31 different industries.

Chris Shepard:

So she is ahead of the game when it comes to thought leadership and Michelle, if you don’t mind, just tell us a little bit about one of the – Michelle‘s done all three of these – but just pick one and tell us a little bit about how you’ve used it, how you come up with the topic, how you wrote it, those types of things.

Michelle Diamond:

Yeah. So I’ll put a pin in how to leverage because that’s what I actually need a little bit more help with.

I’ve spent some time over this COVID period writing some content. And one of my articles got published in Entrepreneur Magazine. It got a lot of traction, actually.

I posted it on LinkedIn too. It got like 40 something thousand views on LinkedIn, but then it was on Entrepreneur Magazine, there online for weeks.

So I’m a sports fan and a business enthusiast. And one of my value propositions is that I tried to make very complex problems simple and easy to understand. I mean, in my regular practice, that’s the growth strategy and execution and operations and things of that nature. But I do love sports and I like to be relatable.

So I wrote an article about the Bulls. If you guys saw The Last Dance, which a lot of people did who’s a sports fan about Michael Jordan and the Bulls, there was an episode about how they were able to figure out how to win and not just when they won afterward, but they lost for a while. And so I wrote an article and I related that to business and how it can be applied in terms of the things that all businesses should look at.

It was a very successful article. I got a lot of traction and I got some people coming in, but honestly, I don’t think that I was able to leverage it as much and I can still leverage it, but I don’t think I was able to leverage it as much because quite frankly, I’ve never had to do this before. All of my years, it’s always been referral-based in terms of the work that I’ve gotten.

So I have this article, I have case studies. I have all these things, but the best way to approach my network without seeming salesy or without making it look like I have some idea what they might need, given that a lot of the different growth situations that I deal with people are kind of buried.

Even with the article, it felt like, “okay, I can send this article, but I need to still have a, so what? like a hook.” So I have an arsenal of information and it’s actually something I want to start doing more of now. And actually I gave myself as of today, which is really ironic because I said, June 30th, July 1st, I’m starting differently with sending this stuff out. So this meeting here is timely, but that’s where I need the help.

But in terms of the context and in terms of knowing that it gained traction and people are interested with it, I have evidence of it. It’s just about turning that into meetings and sales is what I need help with.

Chris Shepard:

Thank you, Michelle. Appreciate that.

Kristen. Do you want to talk about your group?

Kristen McAlister:

Tim, why don’t you share some of what you’re looking at in case studies and kind of your thought process as to what cases would the case study would be good for versus the other challenge that you run into.

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing that challenge of here’s where I’m getting stopped in the process.

Tim Murphy:

Thank you, Kristen. So we had a good conversation. The focus was on the client opportunity where they want to really double the business or they want to take a very dramatic move and the extent to which case studies might be a way to go after that. And so we were exploring some of the things that I’ve been doing involving panels and academics and looking at the people that attend those kinds of things, where they’re looking for ideas to double the business or to take a dramatic move and how can we then create a case study environment to be able to move forward from that.

Note, there are some case studies that I’ve got, just to speak personally, that are historic. There are some challenges that I’ve seen in terms of trying to bring those to the table. Someone sees their problem as being very unique and that sort of thing.

So where we ended up and we did get cut off in the conversation, but if I can just capture that as to say, case studies are a good idea, they take a while, there’s an investment there in terms of time and an investment in helping people to understand what they mean and how to apply them.

Maybe one way to go after that was to start with an assessment. Maybe it’s a 10 to 15 K assessment, it’s two or three weeks, and then figure out how to migrate into the case study, if you will. So that’s a precis of the brief conversation that we had and Matthew is also involved in that and had some good insights and he was taking the Socratic role of asking the good questions to help us along.

Kristen McAlister:

Yeah, we see the value the case study or the articles, especially with us, think of us as a referral source; when we’re talking to a client and we mentioned, Tim has grown and sold five companies, he’s worked in 20 different situations, he’s done this – that only gets us part of the way, but when we’re able to then share a case study, you’re sharing articles and showing that thought leadership – because so few executives do that and take that thought leadership, it’s another way of your value proposition of setting you apart from others. So it’s great to also put that in the hands of referral partners.

Chris Shepard:

Before I move on to break up number two, is there anyone that didn’t get a chance to share that wants to?

Dave McClung:

Well sure. John Brennan and Krista and I had a nice breakout. John has a long history in the cellular industry, right? So I said, “that’s such an interesting topic to everyone, how cell phones started and so forth.” And that kind of led us down to the thinking of it’s great to join groups like a Vistage group or a Provisors group in your area. What a way to network, to just have casual conversations that lead somebody to say, “wow, that’s interesting. Could you speak in front of our group about your experience?”

John and I talked about our relative writing skills, well maybe speaking skills were the better option for us. And John did a nice job and I think would be great in a Provisors or a Vistage or any of those kinds of groups to help promote his brand. And at Cerius, we believe in that.

Chris Shepard:

Yeah, that’s great. Thanks, Dave. I appreciate that. You know, our tendency – and we’re all consultants, we’re all business development people, we’re all drivers of results – is to jump to this third breakout, right? How do we distribute? How do we get success on this? What is the ROI?

The danger can be that if we don’t articulate from the beginning, what is the best format for me to share my content? Right? Is it a case study? Does that fit? To Dave and John’s point, you would not want me to write anything and publish it on the internet. I have a Calendly subscription and a Grammarly subscription on my Cerius account. So like writing would not be my forte. So before we can jump to how do we distribute, and if we want to get results on the distribution, we really need to drill down into what is the best format for us? Is it an article? Is it a podcast or a speaking engagement or is it this case study? So hopefully in your mind, at least you’ve got that picked out from the first breakout.

In the second breakout, we want to talk about your experience, what will not get traction. And break out three is a general article about what you’ve seen in 30 years. It’ll be good. Your mom will read it. Your friends will read it. Your kids were read it and tell you it’s terrible, right? Like that will work. But most business leaders are not going to read a general article about general things.

If you look at what gets your attention on the right side of LinkedIn, it’s some very specific thing with very specific data. So-and-so company to hire 40,000 people in the next 90 days. All of us here at Cerius, that gets our attention. All of us read that article. It’s very specific. It’s very on point to a specific thing that’s important to us.

So now that you’ve picked the type of media that you want to do in this second breakout, we’re gonna try to drill down into what experience in your background should drive what you actually write.

So probably our favorite example forever will be Bill. I knew Bill was in operations. I knew that he was in manufacturing and it was the seventh call with Bill before I knew one of his specialties was moving dozens of plants, changing locations, and it was a long time before I knew. If Bill were to write an article that just said today in manufacturing, honestly, probably that headline’s not going to get me.

If Bill said, “The Logistics Involved In Moving a Plant 18 Times on Budget and on Time,” I’m reading that. But Bill specifically can write that article and probably only Bill can write that article because only Bill’s done it 18 times.

So what is the thing in your background that only you could write before we go to distribution, let’s go into this very specific topic of what that is.

Now what’s true is that you may not have the answer right off the top of your head. That’s the purpose of this breakout. Share with each other, talk through this with each other, and then at the end of it, let’s see if any light bulbs go off.


** Breakout #2 **


Chris Shepard:

Okay. Well, we’re glad you’re back. We’re glad we’re back. And we’re glad that everyone wrapped up breakout number two. So breakout number two I think is the hardest one of the three because it’s drilling down into what is the thing that I can write, I can produce, I can speak on, that only I could do?

So we kind of want to go around the room a little bit. And see if there were any light bulbs that went off or anything that you thought, I’ve been writing on this, or I’ve been thinking I would write on this topic, but really after some discussion with my advisory group, I really think this is the route I need to go.

So anybody want to jump in? If not, I’ll just pick people, which will be super awesome.

Pam Wasley:

Tim Murphy was in Dave’s and my group. He’s got some interesting stuff going on and he’s taken 6 billion-dollar companies, and literally pivoted their business and did it with metrics so that you always knew where you were and, he’s gotten outstanding outcomes at the end of the anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

I mean, he’s done awesome. And now he’s working with more smaller and mid-sized companies, but, trying to take, and we tried to use words like pivot or measurements or whatever. So, Tim, we ended up with kind of just a couple of words at the end. You want to throw that out to everybody and see if anybody else has comments on how to even take that and condense it more?

Tim Murphy:

Sure. So Pam and Dave and I came up with three ways to kind of organize this and I’ll set those out which I came up with after our conversation just briefly as pain, potential, and positioning.

The pain one was “have you had enough yet?” And so something that is about getting the attention in terms of that and maybe it’s about metrics and those kinds of things to tease it apart. That’s one that Pamela was suggesting.

The second one is about potential, which is essentially to say, double the business, a mindset and an approach that is about double a business.

And then the third one that we were kicking around and I think Dave liked this one, which was elevate the conversation in terms of the positioning.

So, pain: have you had enough yet?

Potential: double the business.

Positioning: elevate the conversation.

So I don’t think we’re there yet. But I think that gives a synopsis of where we are and any pearls of wisdom are gratefully received.

Seth Avergon:

That’s a great way of thinking about it.

You know, from a marketing standpoint, I always go for the pain. I always sell the harm so to speak. Because that catches people’s attention. You could do that as a series and then go on, like you said, to the potential for growth, what is the upside to that?

I love it. I think that’s a beautiful way of looking at it.

Tim Murphy:

Seth, the tricky part around the pain point is if you’re selling into a senior level, in a big company, the executives and the folks that are going to be turned off, if it’s a pain based sell, because they’re going to reject that kind of energy, I’ve found, but I’m just putting that out there as a counterpoint, because we came up with it, but I’ve still found there are limitations around the pain.

Seth Avergon:

You can actually blend those two together. You can start on the pain point, cause they may not accept that, but they’re going to know it’s real, if it isn’t back to genuine truth to their situation, and then you can kind of say, “look, you’re here, this is happening. This is potentially where you could go with that.”

Chris Shepard:

We had Tom in my group, and Tom has a great amount of experience across a lot of industries and food service and bio medical devices, those kinds of things. And one of the things that I thought was interesting, Tom said, “well, I haven’t published anything.” But then as we drill down into his experience, he came into a company that had a mission statement and as he worded it, but not a purpose and value statement.

And one of the things he did, Tom, you want to talk about the newsletter and kind of how you distributed that internally.

Tom Oliver:

We came up with a purpose, what gets me up when I’m driving to work every day? It’s how to improve people’s lives at places my family and my network, but for work, it’s people working on the line or out in the orchards, it’s my exec team, just how do you improve people’s lives, everybody you meet?

And so with that, then we went to the values and I really believe you gotta have values, which when you’re trying to get results, it’s what did you get and what’s the results? But how did you get them behavior wise and values? So I took the values we had, make sure we could define the values, but then I got hourly employees to break up into focus groups, take each value, and then define what behaviors support the value, what behaviors don’t support the value.

So then once we pulled it together, we actually put in a training module to get out to everybody on here’s how we’re going to measure you because we do quarterly reviews like clockwork with all of the salaried people and a lot of our hourly leads. And it’s like, did you get the results? What did you get? Did you get them behaving with our values? And believe me, more people leave companies from not behaving to the values than they do performance because you can improve performance. So we took that and then once we got that out and train, then as a reminder, I usually do a weekly newsletter out to all the employees.

So then once a week, I took one value and talked about what supported that value and what didn’t, and then gave my own thoughts about that value. And I had people reading, I had one of the truck drivers drive by and stop his big truck calling apples and come back and say, “Tom, I read your newsletter every week, keep it going. You’re making a big difference, even though I don’t get to see you that much, you are making a difference to the company.”

So I keep publishing and working internally, not externally.

Chris Shepard:

There are two important pieces there. One, when we talk about thought leaders, the real purpose of this call is about external, right? It is about how do we push this out? How does this drive business?

But thought leadership is internal as well. Like what you’re doing with the weekly newsletter, what you’re doing with creating this system, and getting this feedback on values that are thought leadership as well. And so there’s that aspect of it.

And then also, I think more people would love to hear more about what you’ve done, Tom, in moving beyond just this mission. Right? Every company has a mission statement, not all of them get into purpose and values. And so what your experience would lead your topic to be, I think there’s a lot of work you could do in case studies and articles and speaking and podcasts around that. So definitely something I think that more of us would want to hear more about.

Does anybody else want to share before we transition into breakout number three?

Kristen McAlister:

Michelle, you mentioned that your article got all those hits and you had used the sports analogy. When I look at the 850+ articles that we’ve written over Cerius’ time, the number two most successful article was something to the effect of The Five Keys to Success in Sports and Business.

And it was a sports analogy. So taking enjoyable, fun, leisurely topics that people enjoy on their personal time and weaving that into business by far ups the readability of it. And that’s one thing that you really hit on that we’ve seen success on.

Michelle Diamond:

So my quick question is to how did you guys leverage that?

Kristen McAlister:

Lots of ways. And that was actually published so many years ago. For us, that type of clicks on our website and SEO, we leverage it, because of our size, we leverage it for other reasons, but there’s a number of things I know is becoming the next breakout that we can brainstorm on as to how to get more – it’s not just that people are reading it, are they acting on it?

Chris Shepard:

Very good. So now we’re to Michelle’s favorite part of the meeting, right? It’s number three. How do we get this content out? It’s also my favorite part of the meeting.

But before we jump into breakout, I want to review something. I want to set this up. One, distribution will go much, much better if we have the best product possible, right? Don’t shortcut one and two to get to three. But now that we’ve been through one and two, spend some more time on them before you distribute, because when you have something, whether it’s a podcast, whether it’s a case study or an article that you are proud of, that you read it and then reread it and go, just like what Tom just said with his thing, “I am proud to push this out. I would stand on a hill if this was the 1800s on a soapbox and yell this to people. This is good.” When that’s what you’re working with, the distribution piece gets much better, right? You’re less afraid to send that out.

We live in a world where distribution is everywhere. We actually have companies, Seth, our company is working with one, that all they do is redistribute other people’s thought leadership pieces. There’s an entire industry around distribution. So in this breakout, I want you to think about, with the thing that you probably don’t have finished yet, this article, this podcast, this case study, you’re thinking about putting together, where would it need to end up? Who would need to read it? Who would need to see that? And then within our groups, let’s just brainstorm on where are those people at? What are they listening to? What are they logging on to? How do we get to in front of them? And what does that look like?

We’ll brainstorm for about 12 minutes or so. And we’ll come back out to the group with any key takeaways, and then we’ll wrap the meeting up and give you your afternoon back.


** Breakout #3 **


Chris Shepard:

Awesome. Well, welcome back everybody. We want to be respectful of your time, so I will shorten this up just a bit. And we’ll skip the report out section and I just want to touch on a couple of things when we’re talking about distribution.

The first thing, and it did come up in our group, which is where does all this content live for you? Right now, most of it lives on the hard drive of our computer, right? We’ve written an article, we’ve written out a case study, and that’s where it lives. And it’s really hard for a client or a prospective client to get to it when it’s on the hard drive of your computer. So if you go to ceriusexecutives.com/thought-leadership/, that is where our thought leadership lives. It has to have a place to live. So when I’m looking for an article, or maybe if you were looking for something to share, you can go to that place and you can find things to share. You need one of those also, as an independent executive. You need a place for these things to live so that you can share with other people.

Secondly, second question on distribution would be who wants this? If I’m a company that has a workforce spread over a large group, that isn’t all in one place, I want what Tom’s selling right now, how do we move from mission to mission, purpose, and values. I want that, if that’s what I’m doing.

So first question, where’s all this content going to live? Second question who wants it? And third, how can I get it to them?

Seth, do you want to talk for just a minute about all the different distribution points that if one of our executives has content and it has a place to live and it’s articulated well, where could they send that to get distributed? Or how could they do some of that distribution themselves?

Seth Avergon:

You know, there’s a lot of different ways to approach it. I’ve seen people put their favorite articles in the bottom of their signature so that it’s going out every time. I’ve seen people shop it around to local publications, as I mentioned earlier, that could potentially distribute content.

You can shop it out to podcasts if you’re Googling podcasts that you like that might be appropriate for you and send it out that way.

We at Cerius publish contact too. Right? So if there’s something you want to run by us, if you’ve got something you want to send out, please put that out there. We really like to highlight the IEs, right? We use your thought leadership to show off what you can do. And we’re going to continue to do that. So we’re definitely another avenue.

But there’s LinkedIn, there’s different pubs out there. There’s different podcasts out there. I love Chris’s point that you need to have a place where your content is out, whether it’s on your LinkedIn page and you’ve submitted it as an article so it’s in your profile or you have a website yourself and you’re gonna have it linked within your blog. There’s all sorts of different ways to have it available out there and consistently push it or refresh it over time.

Chris Shepard:

Yep. Very good. Two last points I want to make.

Number one, when we are submitting interim executives to clients and we have a resume and that’s a great resume, you kind of get lumped into everyone else who has a great resume. When we have an executive who also has a thought leadership library of their own when they have case studies that they’ve done, when I can say, “here’s Chris Shepherd’s resume and in addition to that, here’s a link to everything Chris has said about growing a sales organization in the last 10 years,” it puts you on a completely other track with the client. Resumes are still resumes at the end of the day, but when you have a thought leadership library, when I can send them to Michelle’s Entrepreneur article, when I can send them to a blog series that you did about the 20 keys that you need to know in the telecom business, that really separates you out.

So the purpose of this meeting today was just to give you one more tool as you’re out there trying to find new opportunities, as you’re out there introducing yourself and networking with other executives that you, that you have more than just a resume, that your experience has been articulated into some type of content that is shareable and usable and valuable.

While you’re out there doing that, you may run across some opportunities with board members’ and executives’ clients where they need help, but it just isn’t the help that you can provide. When you run into that, we want you to remember this Cerius network right here. We have 16,000 people much like yourself in different disciplines, in different industries.

When you see an opportunity that doesn’t fit you, we want you to reach out to Kristen, to Pam, to me, to Dave, to someone here at Cerius. We think it you should do that for two reasons. One, it’s good for your brand. You’re providing a valuable resource to people that may at some point need your services.

And secondly, it’s good for your bank account when you refer business to us and we convert that business, you get 5% of the top line of that for the first 12 months. This is not a free cup of coffee. This is a $10,000 espresso machine at your house. Moving forward, a lot of our contracts are 80, 90, 100 thousand dollars in that year. You’ll get 5% of that. This can be a real income source for you. If you have those opportunities and you choose to share those with Cerius.

Our time is up. We really appreciate you lending us yours, we hope you found value here.

And thank you for being a part of the Cerius network. Thank you. Thank you everyone.

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