Sandy Poirier Smith, CEO, Smith Publicity
In early November, my wonderful colleague Marissa Eigenbrood and I had the honor to attend the Thinkers50 Awards Gala two-day event in the stunning Guildhall in London.
Thinkers50, dubbed “The Oscars of management thinking” by the Financial Times, recognizes experts from all over the world who are shaping leading business and management ideas.
We met clients and industry friends in real life, made new connections, and learned the latest in business trends from this vibrant, generous, and wildly impressive community that we are bringing back to our team, sharing with our community, and applying to how we are managing Smith Publicity. Yes, we even dressed up for the gala dinner!
Key takeaways for authors:
1. Future Proofing Your Expert Brand in the World of AI.
Dorie Clark and Rahaf Harfoush discussed important and emerging concerns faced by thought leaders and authors. From data leaks and internet searches, AI can recreate articles and even write books on your topic, and in your voice.
Their biggest takeaways to guard yourself: Building and continuing to grow a strong personal brand is the best protection against ideas being stolen or claimed by others.
How to do this in order to get credit for your work? Showcase your “deep skills” so you can claim your ideas, write articles and be a podcast guest in many places—quality and both quantity count so you are more easily identified as “the recognized expert” on your topic. This strategy will help ensure you and your work will not be ignored or claimed by others.
For our authors, we’ve shouted from the rooftops for years that while placements in national or well-known media is always a goal, it’s often more important to reach niche or highly targeted outlets as this is where ideal targeted audiences live and seek information, which sparks opportunities such as bulk book sales, speaking, new clients, etc. Now along with boosting SEO discoverability results, this strategy is essential to combatting AI mimicking your work and eroding you as the originator of your ideas and helps to firmly establish your work and expert brand.
2. DEI at Work: How Reading Fiction Helps Translate Good Intentions into Tangible Impact.
Ruchika Tulshyan,Modupe Akinola and Rukasana Bhaijee shared that while there is improvement, there is still much work to be done in diversity in leadership and management. Diversity, equity, and inclusivity have risen on the organizational agenda, but the question remains: have we truly embraced them?
While it’s been researched and proven that DEI practices are good for everyone as it builds cultures of innovation plus improves culture on a human level, what is still challenging for companies and managers is “the how:” how to turn intentions into reality.
They advised diversity should be a “row”—or done throughout an organization—rather than live in a separate, side column. They also advise people to ask questions: find commonality and find uniqueness in new bonds and relationships. Here is an article by Modupe Akinola on Developing Quality Conversations About Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
One piece of advice they shared, and one I find highly appealing as it’s one of my favorite ways to learn, is to build a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of underserved communities: read fiction!
3. Find Mentors: The Power of Asking for Help.
Ruth Gotian, Ed.D., M.S.spoke on the importance of mentors, the art of finding the right partners, and to give before asking.
She shared how high achievers share the same four attributes: intrinsic motivation, perseverance, strong foundation, and constantly learning through informal means—and how people with mentors are wildly more successful in reaching their goals.
Ruth recommends that to build your mentoring team, look for others in your field, retirees, contacts outside your field or industry, and senior or junior peers. She advises not to look just for one individual, but a network of mentors.
For authors, mentors often play an important role. They help authors find an agent/publishing path, brainstorm the next book to write, give honest feedback, and offer endorsements or their network to help promote a book. Ruth shares that it’s always best to give—or build authentic relationships—before asking for help!
4. Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders.
Julie Carrier shared her inspiring work helping young women discover how they can see themselves as leaders and build on this potential as early high school (and we are excited to see how we can continue supporting her The Leadership Development Institute for Young Women through Thinkers50’s new Make a Difference initiative).
It was interesting to note the thoughts young people have on their impression of “who is a leader.” The results were often male and someone loud. Julie’s work helps teenage girls see that leaders come in diverse packages and personalities—yes even the introverts!—and the earlier someone sees themself as a leader, the sooner it sets the stage for building confidence today and professional paths in the future.
For business authors with content typically geared for seasoned professionals, it was encouraging to hear when exposed to new ideas, our next generation of leaders are ready to learn, even long before they officially start their careers.
Congratulations to all the nominees and winners—a number of them past and current Smith Publicity clients! The lessons we learned from both formal sessions and casual conversations were too many to list. Thinkers50 challenged us to think bigger, differently, and kinder when it comes to everything from diversity and inclusion in the workplace to AI strategies, the future of our planet, and more. We look forward to doing it all again in 2025!