Why We Need a Bootcamp to Get Out in Front of Our Ideas
Written by
Deborah Siegel
February 2015
Written by
Deborah Siegel
February 2015

As Kamy’s She Writes co-founder, I’ve long talked about how important it is for those who lead with words—aka writers—to get themselves out in front of their ideas.

Brooke Warner, fearless co-founder of She Writes Press, writes smartly about the role of “platform” here, here, here, and here. In our webinar last year, Thought Leadership for Writers, we interviewed best-selling authors of nonfiction (Susan Cain, Quiet) and fiction (Christina Baker Kline, Orphan Train)—She Writers who also happen to be friends I’ve watched blossom and bloom. I’ve watched them and others around me build or expand their public presence in an ever-shifting media, social media, and idea-scape. And I’ve become so enthused by the creativity, and the courage, I see authors embracing as they spread their words that when I’m not working on my own writing and “platforming,” you’ll now find me now teaching and coaching others with ideas worth spreading, on and beyond the page.

But I confess: I hate the term “platform.” Makes me twitchy. It brings to mind platform-o-nomics—number of likes, fans, subscribers, followers, “friends.” Those things are important. But too many writers start there and end up obsessed with clicks and shares. Agents and editors are obsessed too. But numbers are not why we write.

Numbers follow, but they don’t lead.

What leads?

Thought. Having a really good idea, and being intrinsically in touch with what that is.

Some call this, “thought leadership.” Others call it purpose. Mission. Fire.

What’s your big idea?

To answer this question, like Simon Sinek famously says: Start with why. When you think about building your platform, go back to the beginning: Why did you write your book? Or, why are you writing it now? What do you hope the book (fiction or nonfiction) will DO? Why should this book come alive?

Beyond “portfolio” (i.e., your online footprint, your platform-o-nomics), “thought leadership” is what you do with what you have. It’s the effect you and your work have on others.

Successful writers have followers and fans not just because they write well or use social media well, but because they have a good and spreadable idea, one that galvanizes others and changes the world in meaningful ways.

I like the term “thought leadership” (lofty as it sounds) because to me it describes the bringing of your whole self to the table. It connects story, self, and idea—in the service of your book. It also connects story, idea, and book—in the service of your brightest possible public YOU. For many of us, book and self are entwined. But many authors don’t mine this connection well.

In this age of the social author, nonfiction and fiction writers alike can see themselves as disseminators of spreadable messages and sticky ideas--thoughts that don’t merely inform and/or entertain but inspire, move, or change.

Step back with me for a moment. When you think about which writers and public thinkers we most often see claiming a broader role in the world of action and ideas, the field is crowded with men. Malcolm Gladwell. Daniel Goleman. Daniel Pink. When someone thinks out loud while female, when someone like Sheryl Sandberg, say, breaks through, it can feel like an anomaly.

There’s a boys’ club that doesn’t have to be.

Why don’t women writers (er) “lean in,” more actively, to thought leadership? In my teaching and coaching on platform for writers and leaders of all sorts, I see many women fall into common mindsets that block us from getting out in front of our ideas. I know these mindsets on a personal level, too.

But I believe—I know—these are blocks that can be acknowledged, and often overcome.

What may be holding YOU back from getting out in front of YOUR idea? Please use the comments to respond. I also invite you to join my FB community, visit me on Twitter @girlmeetsvoice, or at www.deborahsiegelphd.com/coach, where the free intro to the Thought Leadership for Writers webinar resides. Please check out the wonderful resources that is Denise Brosseau’s Thought Leadership Lab, too.


And if you’re ready to take action now, then I cordially invite you to join Denise (author of Ready to Be a Thought Leader?) and me for the inaugural “Leader to Thought Leader” Bootcamp this year. If you’re ready to take your writing off the page, learn and grow as a thought leader, amplify your influence, and launch your writing into the world of ideas, we want to hear from you. We want to help you change the way you think about platform by showing how thought leadership is already in you, and how it can organically unfold.

Denise and I are teaming up to bring writers, entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders from the social sector together, so we can all learn from each others’ experience in the trafficking of ideas. In She Writes spirit, participants will support each other in shaping and growing their public presences. Invoking the She Writes credo, we’re interested in building not just for ourselves, but “a platform on which we can all stand.”

More details about the program are here. We’re offering She Writers a discount of 10%. We’re accepting applications for the inaugural class of 20 participants. Allow yourself the opportunity to let one of them be you. Your book deserves it, and so, dear She Writers, do you.

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