You want to get out there and start working as a thought leader. But you just don't feel like you're ready yet. There's a few more books you want to read, courses you want to take, people you want to talk to, just to be sure you're ready. The truth is, unless you get out there and start doing it, you're never going to be ready.
You want to get out there and start working as a thought leader. Perhaps as a speaker, a writer, or a coach, or maybe all three. But you just don't feel like you're ready yet. There's a few more books you want to read. Maybe you want to take that extra course, a few more people that you want to talk to, just to be sure you're ready. The truth is, unless you get out there and start doing it, you're never going to be ready. You won't grow and you'll never start this new career.
Hi, my name is Eric Partaker. Today I want to share with you how I started my own thought leadership journey, in the hope that it will help you. One of the first things that I really embraced and came across was this notion of consumption versus contribution as it relates to our growth. So in the early stages of trying to grow within a new career, or trying to grow a body of knowledge or trying to grow in a particular subject, we're constantly consuming.
We're constantly in that mode of, “I gotta keep reading more books. I got to listen to more podcasts. There's another course that I can take. There's another certification I can do. Ah, I have to go attend this retreat.” It just feels never ending because the truth is it is never ending. You will constantly find new and exciting things to learn. If you're not careful, all of those new and exciting things will also constantly make you feel like you're never good enough, that you'll never be ready. There's just this next thing to learn, but you have to watch out because it will never end. You'll always find that next new book. You'll always find that next new course. Still to this day, I keep finding books, courses and new programs that I could be doing to continually up-skill, but I've broken out of that consumption phase into the phase that I'm now in, which is contribution.
You reach a point with consumption when your growth plateaus. You're just not going to grow anymore. And for you to continue growing more, what you have to do is actually start to contribute. You have to start sharing that knowledge. You have to start working. You have to start trying. It's the only way that you'll continue to grow and develop as a person and reach your full potential in life or this new career that you have in mind.
Today I want to tell you about three ways in which I have done that, three stories with regards to coaching, writing, and speaking. I totally get how it feels to be afraid to start this phase of the journey - I've been there. I thought for years about doing YouTube videos, for example, that I've started to do these days. I thought for years about starting a podcast, which I now have. I thought for years about building an email newsletter list, which I now have. I thought for years about getting on Instagram and doing things on LinkedIn, which I'm now doing all because I was afraid of getting started. All because I was afraid that the message wouldn't be good enough. All because I was afraid that people might look at it and say, “Who does this person think he is? Why does he think he has something to teach me?”
But here's the thing in the book of life. You only need to be on the very next page to be able to help someone who's on a page prior to you. You don't need to be as far ahead as you think to help others. Here's another nice thing to consider when you move from consumption to contribution. The saying goes that we retain about 10% of what we read, and about 90% of what we teach. So the act of contributing, the act of sharing and teaching rather than just consuming, not only helps someone else, but also more deeply embeds the knowledge within you. So you actually help accelerate your own learning game, your own upskilling game. You get a two-for-one when it comes to contribution versus consumption. A two-for-one in that you're going to more deeply embed the knowledge within you, and that you're also going to help someone else in the process.
You don't get that when you're sitting behind closed doors, reading a book, still working on that course or listening to that podcast. You only get it by getting out there and getting started.
The first thing I'd like to tell you about are some stories that relate to my coaching. I started off as a coach and I acquired my first certification. On that note, I encourage that if you want to get into coaching, don't make it too complicated. Don't dream up all the various programs and certifications that you need to acquire before you can get the ball rolling. Pick a certification, pick one program, something that, “I feel like that speaks to me, I could take that further. That's aligned with me and I could use that to help someone else.” That's what I did.
I picked a single certification, completed that certification, and then following that, one thing really stuck in my mind from the instructor in that certification program. He said, “Don't make the mistake of having just been certified and doing nothing with your certification, challenge yourself within the next week to start coaching someone now.” When I got home - I was in the certification, I was over in the US and I flew back to London where I was living at the time - when I got back to London, I took out my phone and I opened up WhatsApp. I sent a couple of voice messages to two friends saying, “Hey, I've just completed this certification that enables me to train up peak performance systems and ways of being and others based on the most successful people in the world. Would you be interested in trying out a coaching relationship? Can I train this up in you?”
Both of them said, “Yeah, that sounds great.” This is another key point - don't be afraid to charge money. I said, “But here's the thing. So that we both show up correctly to these sessions, I need to charge you something. Because unless there's some kind of money on the line, unless there's some kind of sting for you and some money on the line for me, we won't show up at our best. I won't deliver you my best. And you won't take these sessions as seriously as you could.” Both of them agreed to go ahead and start a coaching journey together with me, newly certified, with some money on the line. And it completely worked.
They showed up for the sessions with a lot of intent, a lot of enthusiasm. I showed up initially quite nervous for the first session, but I showed up with the intent to serve. I really wanted to help them because I had to earn that money, especially if it was coming from a friend.
How do you become world-class at coaching? By coaching. How do you become world class at anything? By doing it. There's only a certain amount of time that you can dedicate to consumption, putting knowledge in the brain, before you have to start going externally to contribution and getting that knowledge out in the service of others. Then I experienced exactly the same thing with writing. I thought to myself for years, “I'm not a writer, I can't write well. No one will like what I have to say. I won't be able to think of new things to write. I will get off to a good start, but then it'll fall away. And I won't be able to follow through.”
I created all of these reasons why I wasn't ready to start contributing. I created all of these reasons to still stay in the land of consumption. In the writing sense, this meant that I just kept reading other people's writing rather than writing myself. Then I reached a pivot point. I decided to get my writing habit going. When I was speaking at an event, I said in my talk that if anyone was interested in receiving insights, as I had shared in that talk on a weekly basis, please head over to my website and sign up for my peak performance insights newsletter. This newsletter didn't exist, but I put myself out there.
I set it on stage. I had 150 people sign up on that day. I knew I had only one week before that enthusiasm would wane. And even that, when you think about it is way too long - they waited a week before they got the first email. They didn't even receive anything in return upon registration. But I knew I had to get that first email out in the first week.
Here's something unexpected that happened. When we were setting up the email sequencing, we realized that it would send out an auto email every Thursday at 10:00 AM because of how we had set up the sequence. Then we had a choice. Do we take it off that auto sequence? Because otherwise every Thursday at 10:00 AM, if an email went out and I hadn't written one, a blank email would go out so that we avert a potential disaster?
Then I thought, no, this is perfect. Actually, we keep it as an auto sequence. Every week a blank email will go out unless I have a written by 10:00 AM, every Thursday. Since doing that every single week, an email has been sent. I haven't made these emails too complicated. They reflect things that I've learned in life, practical insights from things that I've read, every time I read or hear or come across something, I'll document it in a simple content bank Google sheet that I've set up to record ideas as they organically pop in my head. The length of these emails is super simple. They are about 500 words, just super simple practical insights. So far this peak performance insights newsletter has an email open rate of 45%. It's been going for six months now.
I know that this information is resonating and I know people are enjoying it. To think that I waited this long to get started. Then here's the other exciting thing - as I've started to write, I’ve become more and more confident in writing. The first few emails that I sent out those first few weeks took a lot of effort, a lot of thinking of what I was going to write. Now, I start to think about what I'm going to write in a given week and actually finish the writing in 60 minutes tops and it's done. But that has only happened because once again, I made that transition from consumption to contribution. My further growth with regards to writing has come from the act of doing, not from the act of contemplating that one day I will write.
The last thing I want to share with you is my speaker journey as a thought leader. I first started speaking to small groups, entrepreneur groups I was invited to. I remember solicitors at the time to a group of people that they had assembled. I literally just took every single opportunity that I could get. But again, it was all about racking up repetitions - speaking, and speaking more. Then my next big move with regards to speaking after I'd become comfortable speaking to small groups of people was to bring a bit more structure and training to it. So I registered for a couple of different speaking courses, and I know that to you might sound like that's consumption, but it's very different. It's consumption with the view to immediately apply, to contribute. I literally was taking everything that I was learning from those courses and immediately testing it live on stage with great results.
Once again, I was solidifying the things that I was learning very, very quickly. Remember, we retain 10% of what we read versus 90% of what we teach. Or you can think of it as 90% of what we're actively projecting, doing and sharing. I definitely experienced that with my own speaking. Sure enough, over time, as I became more and more confident, and as I developed a stronger and stronger message. Over time I developed a signature talk. The talk that I've been doing a lot lately is about becoming extraordinary with IPA. Identity productivity and antifragility. As I developed and practiced that signature talk, another magical thing started to happen. I started to get recognized by other event organizers and meeting planners and invited to bigger and bigger events.
I went from speaking to small groups of people to 18 months later, speaking to my largest audience today of 8,000 attendees. With all of this, what I'm trying to say to you and trying to encourage you to do is to make that move. If you want to be a thought leader, if you want to help others, if you want to serve others, if you want to help them reach a higher level, as I'm trying to do in both their business and lives, or maybe just one or the other, their business or their lives - then don't think you're not ready because your path to deeper fulfillment, your success lies just on the other side of that fear door. Of stepping through that threshold of consuming to contributing, and that will be your next phase, your next ignition point for another rapid period of growth in your life.