Thought Leadership is More than Business

Interview with Denise Brosseau, CEO, Thought Leadership Lab



Every once in a great while, I get much more than I bargained for when I do an interview for this column.

Denise Brosseau provided the biggest surprise I’ve ever had in interviewing.

I had looked to ask her about the difference for early-stage companies between content-marketing strategies and thought leadership. I had thought that content marketing was for distinguishing between commodity products and thought leadership was for selling highly differentiated, high-ended offerings.

But Brosseau sees a larger and much more important difference: content marketing is for demonstrating competence and building trust, whereas thought leadership is for bringing about change in the world.

Thought leadership is for bringing about change in the world.

A lot of what I considered thought leadership, Brosseau categorized as Futurism, as it was looking to predict changes in the world, while thought leadership is about taking a stand and being in action to bring about change in the world. 

Recently, fundamental human rights (e.g., abortion rights, gay rights, etc.) have been under attack in our country. Did Anheuser-Busch, Disney, or Apple look to increase sales when they took a stand? Was Google trying to improve employee retention? Were the sports leagues hoping to increase viewership?

While I don’t know for sure, I doubt it. They were looking to improve the world, and they were willing to take a stand to make that change possible.

Thought leadership can be dangerous and requires not only courage but also preparation. It definitely looks like Anheuser-Busch was caught by surprise. Brosseau works with large corporations to make sure they aren’t caught short.

Even without the large platform that a Fortune 500 company has, ordinary individuals can help accelerate change, both in society and in their own industry or field. Brosseau suggests we can start small by being more intentional in what we talk about, like, or otherwise “amplify” to focus on items of importance. By curating and sharing with our community and followers the best of the best information in our area of expertise (or in an arena that we are committed to), we help bring others along to a fresh perspective or a new way of doing things. 

Brosseau publishes a popular thought leadership newsletter and offers courses on LinkedIn. Her best-selling book, “Ready to Be a Thought Leader?” is available on Amazon and Audible.

In my history of writing, no other interviewee has given me so much to think about. I am looking forward to starting on her book later today.



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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals

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