In the UK, not sure if it’s the same elsewhere in the world but we have a lot of chefs on the TV. They teach us how to cook. In my parents day, in fact my grandparents day these skills were passed down from generation to generation. In fact my mother’s, mother (she liked to be called Nan, even though Rose was her name). Nan, became an orphan as an early age and was therefore sent to what was called the workhouse. This was were poor people were sent so they could learn a trade and then work for rich people. Nan was taught to cook and worked “in service” to a Dentist.
How times have changed, we don’t have the Workhouse and it’s only the very rich, like Madonna, who have chefs.
But somehow the ability to cook, didn’t get passed down. People prefer TV meals we put in the microwave. TV chefs now are often teaching us to cook. Not how to take a skill we have and make it better but teaching us the basics. In the run up to Christmas, I watched a UK Chef, Gordon Ramsey, a chef who owns more than one Michelin star restaurant, teach us how to make scrambled eggs.I doubt, many of the TV chefs see themselves as thought leaders, teaching us to cook what we should know how to cook already. There are of course, some Chefs like Heston Blumenthal (and Gordon Ramsey) who can and do change the world of food. Not by cooking scrambled eggs, of course, but by driving forward the debate about food, taste, colour, smell etc. Did you know that Oreos, have (what’s known in the trade as) 11 attributes of flavour, appearance and texture?
So what has this got to do with thought leadership?
For me, thought leadership has to be about packaging up, something new, you have to be driving the debate forward. What I mean by driving the debate is, you should not be afraid of failure, you can be wrong or disagreed with, but it drives the debate.For example, I write about the fact I believe you can get higher in an organisation and quicker than you can with social selling than you can with Cold Calling. The same old, same old people say you cannot, which is fine. When the Wright Brothers believed they could fly, but I bet the majority of people thought they were dreamers. But if I can get just one person to think, maybe just maybe, it could change selling forever! That for me is thought leadership.
“A thought leader
is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.”What I see are “thought leaders” who, like the chefs of today, parcel-up old thinking and present it as new. Articles on cold calling, closing (accept for Jim Muir’s book “The Perfect Close”), prospecting (where you need to book out time in your diary) none of this is is new. I’m reading a book at the moment from a “sales guru” where it should teach me how to take out the competition, but it’s no different from what I did in the 1980s in my 20s. Now I worked out that for myself, and I’m no genius, but it feels like Gordon Ramsey is teaching me to scramble eggs.Maybe these sales skills, like cookery didn’t get past down. Maybe people are all trying to take an easy option and they need to be taught that one thing in sales hasn’t changed, the need for graft?Related: Why Your Sales Team Cannot Differentiate You