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How to Discover Your Breakthrough Idea To Stand Out

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Simply working hard isn't enough to get your idea discovered these days. You need a breakthrough idea! To make a name for yourself or to be successful in specific industries, you need to learn to stand out online and build a following. It's time to be bold and get your ideas out there.

Dorie Clark's book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It is perfect for entrepreneurs and people wanting to learn how to find their big ideas and become renegade thinkers.

Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It is a guide to becoming a recognized expert in your field.

Too many people believe that if they keep their heads down and work hard, they'll be recognized as experts on the merits of their work. But that's simply not true anymore. To make a name for yourself, you have to capitalize on your unique perspective and knowledge and inspire others to listen and take action. But becoming a “thought leader” is a mysterious and opaque process. Where do the ideas come from, and how do they get noticed?

Dorie Clark explains how to identify the ideas that set you apart and promote them successfully. The key is to recognize your own value, cultivate your expertise, and put yourself out there.

Featuring vivid examples and drawing on interviews with Seth Godin, Dan Pink, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, and other thought leaders, Clark teaches readers how to develop a big idea, leverage existing affiliations, and build a community of followers. She offers not mere self-promotion but an opportunity to change the world for the better while giving you the ultimate career insurance.

Here are a few sparks to grow your ideas in your mission to stand out:

“Most recognized experts achieved success, not because of some special genius, but because they learned how to combine disparate elements and present ideas in a new and meaningful way.”

“You need to be willing to share yourself and your ideas if you expect to advance. Building a strong professional reputation is the best way to protect, and advance, your career. When others recognize you as an authority in your field, clients and employers want to work with you, specifically—and if you do lose your job, you’re equipped to bounce back.”

True thought leaders are driven by asking questions that others have not. Dorie Clark, Stand Out Click To Tweet

“Ask yourself: Is there a way you can differentiate yourself from others in your profession? If you’re injecting fresh ideas and energy into the discussion; you’re offering something genuinely different, and that gives you a competitive advantage.”

If you can explain things well and make them relevant to a broader audience, you can become a recognized expert. Click To Tweet

“If you want to make a mark in your field, try to spell out the fundamental principles behind it. Surprisingly often, the central tenets of a field have never been consciously articulated.”

Books to read:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving by Noah Fleming

To help build your social media platform, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and I

Please check out my interview with Dorie. We recorded it live on Blab which was fun. The full transcript is below.

If you've been pondering what's next? Or how can I be found in this noisy social media landscape, I hope this will help you take a few more steps on your journey. Grab a copy of Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It here.

For you readers, here's the full transcript of our interview.

Peg: Hi, everybody. It's Peg Fitzpatrick, and I am here with My Book Club to speak with Dorie Clark and talk about Stand Out, which is Dorie's book on how to find your breakthrough idea and learn how to stand out online, which is a topic that I know a lot of people really, really are dying to talk about.
Dorie, hello. It's so great to talk to you today.
Dorie: Peg, I am so pumped to be talking to you. Thank you very much, especially for all your valiant efforts to surmount challenges. We've gone over the river and through the woods and we are here talking.
Peg: Now we're on Blab, which I actually like to make fun of, because the name Blab is just … I don't know. It kills me. Anyway, if you guys love Blab, type something cool in the cool comment and tell us why you like it.
Today, as I mentioned, we're going to speak with Dorie. Dorie is an author, and she writes about all different types of topics for branding and social media for Harvard Business Review.
You write for so many different great places. Entrepreneur, Forbes. You hit all the big ones; right, Dorie? You don't mess around with Huffington Post; right?

Dorie: I have a Huffington Post account. I haven't flexed those muscles in a while, but I do have one.
Peg: Have you branched out to Medium at all?
Dorie: I actually haven't. It's been on my to-do list as one of the places to publish. The latest thing that I've actually been doing is on Linked In. I've been resurrecting some of my older Forbes posts from three years ago, taking the evergreen ones and rejiggering them a little bit and then putting them out on Linked In for new audiences. That's actually been great. Just every day I'm pumping something out there. The follower count is actually increasing pretty substantially, so it's fun to watch that.
Medium is something I'm interested in experimenting with, especially because it seems like there's a little bit more room than there is on other channels for more personal reflection, and so that's something I'd like to do a little bit more of.
Peg: Jamie Broderick says she loves your Linked In posts.
Dorie: Oh, thank you, Jamie. I appreciate that.
Peg: Yeah, Medium is a little bit different. I like Linked In. I haven't published anything there recently, but Medium just feels a little bit different. Number one, it's a really pretty platform, but it's cool, because it's a whole different audience. That's what I found there. I don't know. It was all these new people that I didn't know. I was like, “Oh, hey, new audience, thanks for reading my stuff.”
Dorie: Yeah, totally.
Peg: Let's dig into your book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. It is crucial at this stage for all people in creative things I think, actors, writers, anybody who wants to make a name for themselves, you really do need a social platform these days. I've heard stories from actors in Hollywood, models, all different types of people, and they're all being asked, “What is your social following?”
Maybe we could pedal back to when you first, before you had published and the story of how you got published, because that kind of includes that; right?
Dorie: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Rewinding back to about 2009, that was the year that I got really serious, where I decided, okay, I'm going to write a book. I'd always wanted to write a book, and I'm like, this is going to be it, this is going to be the year.
I spent the first six months of the year doing exactly the wrong thing, which is that I was absolutely convinced that what I really just needed was the right topic and the right proposal. I wrote three different book proposals in that six-month period. I'm like, all right, one of these is going to work.
The point that I was missing that I didn't know a lot of authors at the time, I didn't really know a lot about the process, was that actually none of that mattered. Yes, you need a good proposal, but what I kept hearing back was, “Oh, yeah, this is nice, but you are not famous enough. You do not have a platform.”
In 2008 just as, more famously, Wall Street, which I'm looking out on now because I live in the financial district in New York …

Dorie: Yeah, Wall Street imploded, but the publishing industry imploded. They did bloodbath layoffs in 2008, and especially after that they got really, really conservative. Basically they just didn't want to … Much like a bank doesn't want to lend to you if you don't already have money, like the bank doesn't want to do business with you unless you don't need the bank, publishers don't want to do business with you unless you don't need the publisher.
I just kept hearing back, “All right. You've got to do this.” It was so frustrating, because it was basically starting from square one. I was like, all right. I've got to re-jigger my timeline. I spent about two years doing that. From 2009 to 2011 I focused on platform building, and that actually did work, and it enabled me to get my first book deal, which actually was sparked by originally a blog post that I did for Harvard Business Review that then was able to turn into an article for Harvard Business Review and then eventually for my first book, Reinventing You.
It was a process, and I had to be very deliberate about it, because it did not come intuitively to me. I really had to muscle my way through it.
Peg: Of course back then there weren't all the blog posts on how to do it or your book on how to do it as a matter of fact. Yeah, when you're trying to figure it all out. I think that's when things probably did change a lot for authors. Publishers were like, okay … Still, it's 2015 and publishers still don't know how to get the word out.
We both are with Penguin Portfolio. Yep? Yeah. I had to just check. We both work with the biggest, hugest publisher on the planet, guaranteed; right?
Dorie: Yep.
Peg: Penguin is the biggest. They are amazing. They have amazing publishers, editors, but they really haven't cracked the nut on how to get the word out there about their books, because they have so many. They work with you really for maybe a month after your book comes out, and then it's like, “Okay, Dorie, go sell your book;” right?
Dorie: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. There's a lot on you. If you're not going to put in the time and effort, it is absolutely not going to be done for you.
Peg: Absolutely. Absolutely. You're only the second author I've heard of that got a publishing deal from a blog post, but that's a really great story. I don't know if you know Beth Hayden. She's a writer. She writes for, I think Pro Blogger she wrote for or Copy Blog or one of those. She wrote a big, huge Pinterest article when Pinterest was brand new, and they asked her to write a book about how to use Pinterest, which is … Now publishers are like, Pinterest isn't going to be popular. It's like, are you kidding? It's really popular.
Anyway, segue-way. How did you come up with your idea for this book, Stand Out?
Dorie: Stand Out was basically for me I viewed it as a little bit of a sequel; right? Reinventing You, my first book, was for people in transition in some way. It's about people who want to make a change in their lives, whether it's changing jobs, changing careers, changing how people view them, but it's like a re-brand book.
Stand Out for me was the follow-up, because it was like, all right, what do you do once you've gotten to that place that you want to be at, because then all of a sudden … It's kind of like the movie The Candidate, where he wins and then at the end he's like, “Oh, my God, what do I do?”
For Stand Out, it's like, all right, once you've figured out where you want to be, it becomes a question of how do you then excel. How do you become recognized as one of the absolute best in your field. I thought for me personally, just out of curiosity, I the best way to do it would be to interview all of these top performers. I interviewed about 50 people, folks that all the listeners here are probably familiar with. Robert Cialdini and Seth Godin and David Allen and Tom Peters, all the interesting people.
I wanted to try to figure out their secrets, literally, how did they get where they are today, and so that's what I wrote the book about, so that people can begin to take that template and say, “All right, how can this apply to me?”
Peg: Awesome. Robert Cialdini, that's one of Guy's favorite books too. He loves him.
When you had the section on spelling out fundamental principles of your field, Robert Cialdini's approach to this, that was his research. Can you talk about what he discovered in his research?
Dorie: Yeah. Yeah. I actually have a couple of sections in the book where I talk about him. The editors of Portfolio were like, “You're talking about him an awful lot.” I'm like, “Dude, he's the best we have. I talk about him a lot.”
There were two key things that I thought was really interesting about what he did. The first one that I thought was pretty interesting, and I have a whole section about this, because I think this is actually an under-appreciated way that people can become recognized as experts is the idea of systematizing the way that you talk about a field. I call it creating a framework.
Obviously, influence and persuasion are things that people have been concerned about and talked about from the beginning of humanity. It's useful to be able to persuade people. We all know that. We're pretty interested in that. It was not until Robert Cialdini that they actually said, “You know what? There are only six ways that you can persuade people. Here's what they are.” He created this system. Everybody's, “Oh, duh. Yeah, that's right. That's amazing.” Now literally anytime people talk about persuasion, they have to mention him, because it's so useful. Creating a framework for your field for whatever you're doing I think is quite valuable. That's the first thing.
The second thing that I talked about with Cialdini was about the importance of actually doing research. I think sometimes people get held back about this idea of how do I come up with my idea that I'm going to be known for, my breakthrough idea, because they think, “Oh, my God. I don't have a breakthrough idea. What do I do?” Then they get paralyzed.
One point that I really want to make in Stand Out is that you don't actually have to start with the idea. It's not like you have the idea and then you execute. Usually what happens is you start executing and then the idea emerges from it. For Cialdini he was listening, he was paying attention. He started out like everybody else. He was a psychology professor and he taught his students stuff about, like, “Well, we did this in the lab, and so it tells us this about human nature works.” The students are all like, “Professor, how do we know it works in real life?” He had to be just like, “Well, we know.”
This was not satisfying, but everybody, they just ended it there, but Cialdini was actually the one person who said, “Okay, what if we tested it? Is there a way that we could test it?” He figured it out, and he told me, creating an experiment like this took three times longer than it would have if he had just done something similar in the lab, really elaborate, really a challenge, and a lot of people wouldn't be willing to invest time in it, but he created these interesting real-world field experiments that actually showed people something that they never knew before, and that was a breakthrough.
It came from being willing to roll up your sleeves to actually say, “Oh, well, we know it's hard to get this information, but is it impossible to get this information?” So many people, they confuse hard and impossible, and then they're just like, “I'm not going to do that,” but Cialdini did it.
I see a question here abut which Cialdini book should I start with. He actually hasn't written too many books. He's done a few, but the classic, classic one is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. That has sold 2,000,000 copies. Great read, so that's a good one.
Peg: He persuaded many people to buy it.
Dorie: Yeah, exactly. Very effective. The other one that's really fun, if you like the first one, it's called Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Influence People or something like that. He wrote it with Noah Goldstein and Steve J Martin. That's really great. It's just little. It's like these little nuggets, but they're very powerful.
Peg: Alisa, while you're on Amazon, make sure you get Stand Out too.
Dorie: Thank you. Thank you wing woman.
Peg: I just have to say, doesn't Robert Cialdini, doesn't he sound like he should be a magician, like the “Great Cialdini.” It just sounds like a magician's name to me.
Dorie: Yeah, that does. He does sound like a good magician.
I have to say, I want to tell just a little story about him, because this was so fun for me. One of the nice things about starting to write books is you get to meet a lot of other authors like you, Peg. I want to meet you. When you come down to New York …
Peg: Next time I'm in New York. I love New York. I love visiting.
Dorie: Yeah, because I do these author dinners.
Peg: Okay.
Dorie: Any time you're down, I want to invite you to one so we can hang out and chillax.
Peg: Awesome. I just saw Noah Fleming this weekend, and he went to your author dinner at South by Southwest.
Dorie: Oh, fantastic. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was just emailing with Noah five minutes ago, so yeah.
Peg: Noah, are your ears burning?
Dorie: That's right. Yeah, so if anyone is on an Amazon binge, Noah's book is called Evergreen. It's very good.
Anyway, meeting Cialdini, I had been a fan of his for years, and I had interviewed him for both of my books, for Reinventing You and for Stand Out. He lives in Arizona, and I'm not really ever there. A lot of the authors I either interviewed in person or they live around so I've gotten to meet them at conferences and stuff.
Cialdini, last year just randomly I was booked to speak at a conference in Phoenix, one time I've ever been to Phoenix in my life, and so I let him and his wife know, and they were so nice. I was blown away. What they did, I asked them. I'm like, “I'm going to be in town for a couple days. Could you have dinner,” whatever. They're like, “We're just leaving town. We can't do it,” but they met me and picked me up at the airport. We had coffee at a Starbucks, and they met me and drove me to my hotel. It was so amazing. I'm like, “Oh, my God. The Robert Cialdini Chauffeur Service.” I had no idea. That was great.
Peg: That was awesome. That's the thing that you find with people who, they are really tied to their topic area. Usually it's something that means a lot to them, and he obviously probably naturally influences people by his being awesome.
Dorie: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Peg: Guy's book is Enchantment. He's so enchanting in person. People are dazed. They're like, “Ehhh.” They can barely get a question out because he's got … People know his online personality, but when they meet him in person, he has a huge smile. He's so friendly to everybody. He has pictures and talks to people, and they're like, “Wow.” They walk away with big stars in their eyes. Its' crazy.
It's interesting that people who, he probably is just naturally somebody who can do these things, but then he researched it. Brene Brown was at Inbound this weekend, and of course she writes about and talks about vulnerability and does years of research for her topics on facing your fears and how to get out there. It's fascinating.
One of the things really is once you find your niche, which we should talk about how to develop your niche, but there's no “Quick” button; is that correct, Dorie? There's no “Easy” button that's going to be, bam, overnight thought leader?
Dorie: Yeah, it's a little tricky, but … I'll actually say, some people have asked me this question, and so if I had to give somebody a prescription for how to make yourself a thought leader in 60 days, 30 is really pushing it. If you can make yourself a thought leader in 60 days, here is what I would do. I would pick some narrow emerging topic. Let's pretend it's Blab; okay?
Peg: It is Blab this week.
Dorie: I know. Blab is rocking. This is great, because this is actually my first time using it. Everybody's all, like, “Oh, my God. This is so fantastic.” For better or for worse, I'm a little bit of a skeptic. I'm like, I remember when everybody was saying, “Oh, my gosh. Can you get me a Ello invitation?” Literally. I did something nice for someone. This was last year whenever it was doing its thing. She wrote back and she said, “Oh, I really want to pay you back. Can I pay you back with an Ello invitation?” I said, “That is so sweet of you, and I really appreciate it, but that is the last fucking thing I want.”
Peg: I know. I know. I have to say I think Thomas Hawk is the last person who still loves Ello, and I love Thomas Hawk, but, “Dude, sometimes you've got to give it up.”
Dorie: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, you take something that's cool like Blab. Actually I do a functionality on this. This is really great. What I would say is every day for 60 days write a blog post and then just share it on other social channels about that thing, so that literally it's like Monday is Blab for Lawyers and Tuesday is Blab for Accountants and Wednesday is How to … whatever, How to Position Your Camera so You Look Handsome on Blab. Day four is about what are the five mistakes that you might make on Blab.
You do that and you put it out there, and you have so much content that anytime a journalist is going to write about something, nowadays this is what they do is they Google always first to see what's been written. It becomes an echo chamber; right?
Peg: Right.
Dorie: They see the sources that have either been quoted about it or have written about it. Then they'll call you. If they see, the entire first page of Google is you writing about Blab, you're the Blab expert. Then all of a sudden you leverage this because you've met the reporters. You know who they are. They know that you give good quote, as they say, and so they start talking to you about other things. Like, oh, they're on deadline. Who can they talk to. Well, you're first word about Blab so you can say some stuff about Periscope. Then your realm begins to expand.
Peg: Yeah, be the Blab-fluencer.
Dorie: Yep.
Peg: That's awesome advice. I want someone in the chat right now to be like, I'm going to try a topic, put Dorie's stuff to the test. I'd love to hear that.
Dorie: Yeah.
Peg: That's super great advice. Make sure that you research it and know what you're talking about so you sound … Obviously Blab is super new, but if you're going to be the influencer, make sure that you are getting some great information when you're going out there.
I was going to ask you how to develop your niche. I think you totally covered that one. Can you share some examples of people who are standing out in your opinion and how you feel it works for them or what they're doing?
Dorie: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. There's so many ways, of course, that people can stand out, but we were talking a little bit a moment ago about how do you … Basically, there's two parts at play; right? It's how do you come up with a worthy idea that you get known for. That's the substance part. Then there's the dissemination part, like how do you get known for that idea.
If you are doing this right, the right way, the sustainable way, you have to have both pieces. You can't be all steak and no sizzle and you can't be all sizzle and no steak. You want to do both. I'll just say briefly in terms of the latter part about how do you actually build the following and get known for it, it's a three-step process. This is something you, Peg, do so well.
Peg: Thank you.
Dorie: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Peg: What do I do? Or whatever it is, do that.
Dorie: Exactly. The three-step process for spreading your ideas, it's basically about moving out in incremental circles so that you're influencing, your sphere of influence grows. Step number one is what I call building your network. It's getting this tight-knit group of people around you who can be your mentor board of directors who you can balance initial early ideas off of, make sure your ideas are solid, refine them, get honest feedback, et cetera.
Next you move out to a larger sphere, which is building your audience. This is a lot of the stuff we're doing now. We're doing a Blab chat, so people are hearing what we're talking about. They're getting exposed to the ideas. It enables people that we don't necessarily know personally to be able to hear about it and say, “Oh, I like that. I like that idea. I resonate with that. Interesting. I'll check out her stuff. I'll read her book. I'll see more of her.” You start getting a little bit of momentum, because people you don't know or interact with one-on-one begin to hear about you.
Then third and finally is the last biggest concentric circle is what I call building a community, and that is where audience members actually start talking with each other and creating that dialog around those ideas. That's when things can go viral.
Who is doing this well? There's so many great examples. One that I'll pick from the book is let's just take David Allen, for instance. Interestingly enough, many of you guys will know him. He's the Getting Things Done guy, another mega bestseller. It's really interestingly, much like Tim Ferris, the starting place where he first became really popular was in Silicon Valley. A lot of the tech people got really into the Getting Things Done methodology, and because of the leverage of tech, they were able to very quickly move from being an audience to creating a community because those ideas were spreading virally at a very fast rate.
This is where you pour fuel on the fire and grow, and so he's been able to build this worldwide Getting Things Done community in an effective way, and like Cialdini, what gave substance to him, there's a lot of productivity gurus out there that are just like, “Hey, so you create a to-do list, and then you do this,” but David Allen created a structure. He created a system, and that actually meant there was enough heft, there was enough there there, that people could immerse themselves in it. It wasn't just a one-time thing. It was a way of life.
Peg: That's awesome. In the questions. That's awesome. It is a bigger … I love the Get Things Done thing, and that's a perfect example. Tim Ferris, again, with his … I haven't quite mastered his four-hour workweek yet, but I'd be happy with a four-hour workday. I don't know about you, but go, Tim Ferris.
Dorie: Yeah, totally.
Peg: I loved the section where you talked about writing the operating manual, which goes along with all the things that you're saying, like once you get your idea and find your idea, then you write the operating manual.
Can you talk about how you can become an expert, which is sort of what you already talked about with your writing the 30 days of content or 60 days if you really want to push it out there. Well, if it's your big idea, it's going to be longer than 60 days. It better be something that you really like. Can you talk about writing the operating manual idea and how that can help get your ideas out there?
Dorie: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. One of the other things, the “objections,” quote, unquote, that you hear from people who [inaudible 00:23:49] about, “Oh, I'm not smart enough to come up with my idea,” or, “I can't do that. Only special people can come up with their ideas.”
One of the reasons that I included this section in the book is that, interestingly enough, it turns out that originality is oftentimes really overrated when it comes to developing ideas. If you are a smart and thoughtful synthesizer, you can often really become known as a thought leader.
Think of it, somebody like Malcolm Gladwell. People think of him as a business thinker. The dude gets 80 grand per speech. He's done very well as a business thinker. He is not a business thinker. He is many, many talented things, but what he is is a reporter that writes about psychology and sociology and combines it in an interesting way.
The operating manual section is about this idea that you don't necessarily have to be creating even these ideas on your own. If you see something that is a hidden gem, if you see something that is under-appreciated and needs to reach a broader audience and you feel like you can help make it do that, that's extraordinarily powerful.
Just by way of example, I talk about a guy named John Allen in the book. I used to, in my previous life, I was the head of a bicycling advocacy group, and John was one of my board members. In bicycling advocacy, as in anything where the stakes are incredibly low, there's all these fervent, heated dramas. There was a guy named John Forester, who is this incredibly curmudgeonly guy. He's sort of known as a little bit of an asshole, but he wrote this book called Effective Cycling that was, whoa, it was brilliant, genius book about bicycling advocacy and safety and whatever.
Everybody loved it, but John Forester was a very flawed messenger, and so John Allen knew that it needed to reach a wider audience, and so what he ended up doing was writing this short book, like a chat book. It was essentially a distillation of Forester's principles. He gives credit to Forester, but it was boiling it all down in a very accessible format. It turned out that was what the market needed, and it became really popular. Multiple states, half a dozen states have adopted it as the official state bicycling manual. As a result it sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has spread the ideas in a big way, which is what both Johns were after.
Peg: That's awesome. That's interesting. Basically he built on the idea of someone else, giving him credit, of course, but in a more effective way. That's very cool.
Okay. Let's see. Let's go back to blogging a little bit, because it is a way that you can really get your ideas out there. Can you talk about the power of blogging and how it can help people stand out? Obviously, you've been blogging for a long time. I've been out there. If you're new today, like if you're going to be, “Okay, I'm going to start a blog today,” how do you … Number one, do you think people can still stand out with a blog? Number two, what would you recommend that they do?
Dorie: Yeah, yeah. I think people absolutely can. I'm very bullish on blogging. I'm especially bullish on blogging, honestly, because there's so much competition these days. What you need to do is go against the current; right? What the current is always going to be, because this is human nature, is the current is going to be people being lazy. That's what's going to be the thing. Everybody's, “Oh, why should I write a blog? I can take a picture and put it on Instagram.” It's like, “Yeah, that's great.” You know what? If you're a photographer, fantastic. That's a far better thing because it's a lot nicer to show rather than tell about something that's really inherently visual.
For a lot of professionals, depending on your job, but for a lot of us, we are knowledge workers and a photo is great, but what really shows who we are and what we can do is writing down our ideas in a sustained fashion. People have been saying for a long time, “Blogging is dead. Teens aren't blogging.” Well, you know what? Why aren't teens blogging? They don't do their homework either for the same reason.
If you're an adult, if you're an adult who is thoughtful and hardworking, then you really can separate yourself, because other people are not willing to make the effort on it. It's easier than ever of course to blog. It's great.
I used to suggest to people, “Oh, I know it's hard. I know you have to make a commitment, but start blogging.” Now you don't even have to really make a commitment. You can blog on Medium. You can blog on Linked In. Just test the waters. Just do what you need to do. I think that that's …
Peg: Teens are secretly blogging on Tumbler.
Dorie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.
Peg: They just do it over there quietly, and they're like, “Yeah, we're just …” or they vlog. They're so much more fluent with video that they do have a different way of doing it, which I think is really interesting.
Actually, a guest post on my blog, my daughter wrote it for me one week when she was 16. She was like, “Mom, you need a break. I'll write your blog post for you this week.”
Dorie: Wow.
Peg: I was like, “Okay, go ahead. You can write my blog post.” It's the second most popular blog post in my life.
Dorie: What did she write about? What was it?
Peg: How to be happy. She's just a super happy person, and people ask her all the time, “How do you maintain it? How do you do that,” and so she just wrote a really cute thing. I put cute pictures and it gets re-pinned constantly. It's very popular in Pinterest.
Dorie: Wow.
Peg: But you know what? It was a very simple topic that a lot of people obviously could relate to, because we all have a lot of stuff that goes on. Anyway, it's interesting that one of my most popular blog posts was written by a teen.
Dorie: I love that. That's so great. That's really awesome. Yeah, I think that blogging is actually still really important and really powerful.
Peg: I think so too.
Dorie: The growth even still is very fast. I'm working on a proposal for a new book right now, which hopefully I'll be able to get out pretty soon. It's nearly done, but one of the things that I'm hoping to talk about is to go into even more depth about some of these techniques that we're talking about.
One of them is about email list building and things like that. You look at somebody. Some of your viewers here are probably familiar with a guy named James Clear. In an 18-month period he grew his email list to 70,000. It's now up over 100,000, and he did it through blogging. That was literally just the be-all and end-all of his strategy. It absolutely can be done, and not just if you started blogging 10 years ago or 15 years ago, like a Chris Brogan or a Mitch Joel or whatever. You can start now and really amass a very rapid following.
Peg: Yeah. That's awesome. I agree. There's so many different ways to do it. I was just throwing that out there because I always like to know what people think about it. I actually made Guy go back to blogging too, because he thought blogging was dead. I was like, “Blogging isn't dead. It's awesome.” He was like, “No, I don't think I'm going to do it.” It took me a really long time to get him to write some stuff. I'm like, “Come on. Let's just try it.”
Dorie: [inaudible 00:31:15] take pictures.
Peg: His blog, he has I don't even know. He hadn't written anything in years, and he published content, and it was like … He has 40,000 blog subscribers or some insane amount. People were like, “Yay.”
Dorie: Totally. Totally.
Peg: Anyway, it's interesting. It's interesting. Everybody says things are dead. Of course email is the original. Email said, everybody hates email, but as bloggers and content creators know that that's actually where you reach people is email.
Dorie: Yeah.
Peg: It's interesting. Interesting. We've talked about people who you feel like they do a good job. What current thought leaders do you respect in the social space?
Dorie: Yeah. I was mentioning Mitch Joel a minute ago.
Peg: You can't say Robert Cialdini.
Dorie: He doesn't really do a lot in social, but it's true. He is my go-to. Any question, the answer is Robert Cialdini.
Peg: Yes, the answer is Bob. If you need a ride from the airport, Robert Cialdini. If you need to learn how to influence people … I'm just kidding.
Dorie: Yeah, exactly. These days, like everybody else, I'm trying to control the floodgate of information coming to me, so there's very few people that I regularly just consume everything they create. There's a lot of people that I respect, but in terms of people who are actually able to create on a very, very regular basis, I think exceptional content, in the social space specifically I subscribe to Mitch Joel's email newsletter. I think that's great. Every day he's got this very smart analysis.
He's got a thing that I really like. Every weekend he does a thing where he and some friends of his send out an email with six story lengths. It's like six must-read links or whatever. They're usually really good. They're very interesting, so that's a nice way for me to read stuff that is relevant but just a little bit outside the norm of what I might normally find on my own, so I find that really good.
The other person that I follow who's not so much like a talking about social, per se, but I think is very savvy in terms of how he deploys social media is James Altucher. I read everything he does and really like that a lot.
Peg: It's interesting, because you mentioned the social people but not on social. What's your favorite social platform? You actually enjoy them in your inbox better than you do on social it sounds like.
Dorie: Yeah, I do actually.
Peg: What's your favorite social platform?
Dorie: My favorite one …
Peg: You don't even like social media, Dorie. I can tell.
Dorie: That's right.
Peg: You're a writer.
Dorie: The one that I've probably invested the most time and care into is Twitter. I think that that is really useful and valuable. The one that I actually have started playing with just recently, I held that for a really long time, because I'm making little jokes about it, but I actually just got on Instagram, because I couldn't for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how is this going to be useful to me. I'm a business writer. I'm a consultant, but actually I had a conversation with somebody and she made me think about it a little bit differently. What I realized was I go on a lot of business trips, and I thought, “Oh, I can sort of share a little bit of my life this way,” where …
Peg: Exactly.
Dorie: I got back from Puerto Rico and Brazil, giving talks there, and so I took pictures of just stuff I saw and whatever. Oh, well, this is a way … It's not super professional necessarily but it's a way to show people how I'm seeing the world, and if they're interested in that, then yeah, let's do it.

Peg: It is. Exactly. That's exactly what I use it … Well, I post a lot of stuff on Instagram, but for me, I travel a lot too, and so I think that people who follow me just love to see what I'm doing and where I'm going.
When I first started blogging, I followed Ree Drummond, the pioneer woman who now of course has a show on Food Network, and she used to post pictures of the hotels that she stayed at. At the time I had little kids. I wasn't traveling at all, and I was like, “Wow, if I ever get to the point where I get to travel and stay in hotels …” because we know how fancy that is now.
Dorie: Oh, yeah.
Peg: It's so fancy. I said, “I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to show people where I'm going, what I'm doing, so they can …” Maybe they're never going to get to go to that city, so it's fun. I like to do that too. It does show a different level of personal information. It's not like Facebook, that, but Instagram is different, and I love that about it, because it does show a different level of who you are and where you're going, what you're doing. It's fun to follow people. I'm glad that you dove in, Dorie.
Dorie: What's your favorite [inaudible 00:36:24] tag? Do you have a favorite one with a bullet?
Peg: It's really hard for me. Pinterest. I love Pinterest so, so much. It is 43% of my blog traffic comes from … Forty-three percent. It's so good for blog traffic. I just love it as well. I wish that I was smart enough that I was investing 43% of my time there. Because I'm a social media writer, I really have to know the ins and outs of all the social media platforms, because people ask me questions. They want to know how it works. It's really hard for me to pick a favorite baby, but I do love Pinterest so much. Instagram has grown on me a ton, a ton.
Two questions. Where was my favorite place to travel? Next.TV. I'm going to say South America, the whole continent. Guy and I did a month-long travel tour around all of South America, and we went to Brazil and Argentina. It was pretty amazing.
Dorie: Wow. Were you giving talks along the way, or what were you doing for a month?
Peg: Okay. Guy was giving talks. We were working with Motorola, and I did all the social media, photos. We hit the whole continent by storm to talk about Motorola's latest product at the time.
Dorie: Wow.
Peg: It was so fun. I got to meet people that followed me all over the … in different countries. It was very cool. I was kind of like the media girl and Guy was like the speaker. It was fun. I have to say, I learned how to be a better speaker, because I got to see Guy speak a whole bunch of times. He's such a good speaker.
Dorie: Now you can probably give his speeches verbatim after seeing them for a month.
Peg: I totally could give his speeches, but they would not be as good as his, because his are a lot of stories. He's such a good story teller. Anyway, no, I don't speak Portuguese. I speak some Spanish, which was very helpful. Anyway, that was a total digression. It's fun to answer some of the questions in the sidebar.
We should be wrapping up. I'm going to go with my last question, because I don't want to take all your day up, Dorie. What's one thing people can do to figure out what their breakthrough idea might be?
Dorie: Oh, wow. A handy little T up there, Peg. I'd like to take this into the chat box, but if folks are interested, there's a link. Actually, I have a free workbook that I created. It's actually a pretty good workbook, if I do say so myself. It's a free 42-page workbook, and I exacted it from Stand Out, and it is 139 questions that sequentially walk you through the process in developing your own breakthrough idea and then building a following around it.
I've heard back from a lot of people that actually have found it pretty useful, because it's all about trying to focus in on self-reflection and thinking about how these ideas apply to you. The short version of what I would say, that's like the brass tacks, and I hope people might enjoy it, but big picture, there's five major strategies. When I interviewed these 50 thought leaders, five major strategies. It's like a smorgasbord. It's not like a five-step process. It's kind of like pick the one that inspires you, and then just run with that.
Very briefly, the five strategies for developing your breakthrough idea. One we talked about is the niche strategy. Just go narrow and then you can expand from there.
Number two is mixing disciplines. Is there a way that you could bring together two disparate things, maybe skills or experiences or parts of your background? Maybe you take social media in Brazil and you create something interesting there that hasn't been done.
Number three is doing your own independent research. This doesn't have to be like PhD research. This can be interviewing people like this or writing a case study or a white paper or doing reviews or something like that, kind of like Robert Cialdini did field research in psychology when nobody else had done it, and people were like, “Oh, wow.” It's kind of revelatory, so there's that.
Number four, tackle a big idea. Don't be afraid to tackle something that is big and important, because if you do that, there's a real power that is associated with it. It will draw people in. That's why people always talk about Elon Musk so much now, is he's doing these crazy things that get everybody excited, so there's power there.
Then number five, we talked about this one. Create a framework for your field, or create a framework for the issue that you're talking about, and then … We can think of them; right? We've got Joseph Campbell and the stages of the hero's journey. We've got Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the stages of grief. We've got Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. We've got Robert Cialdini and the six methods of persuasion. All of this, these are the people who have become the definitive thinkers in their field. You can do that too.
Peg: Yeah, like today you guys can do that. Load Dorie's book.
One hundred and thirty-nine questions, was it?
Dorie: Yeah.
Peg: You will know who you are by the end of that. Invest the time in yourself, because all the things that Dorie has done, all this research on and wrote about, the main thing is that you have to, you're going to have to do the work, people. Dorie gave you a great framework with her book Stand Out. I just put a link in a sidebar, because I am giving a copy away on my Facebook page for my book club that is courtesy of Penguin Portfolio, who publisher that we love.
Thank you so much, Dorie. This was so fun. I mean, after we got past our tech issues, yay.
Dorie: Yay. That's right. Well, thank you. I appreciate your quick thinking, because, yeah, I don't know what's going down with Google Plus Angles, but this actually worked marvelously. I've been hearing all the buzz about Blab and so I'm so glad to actually have a chance to use it. I like it.
Peg: Yeah, so we broke your Blab cherry.
Dorie: Yeah, you did.
Peg: Okay. Everybody, thanks for tuning in. Thanks for all the great questions, and I hope you'll register to win Dorie's book. If not, please go buy it and learn how you can come up with your breakthrough idea.
This is Peg Fitzpatrick for Book Club, and I will see you next month on whatever technology we can get to work. Talk to everybody soon. Bye.

Disclosure: links in this article are Amazon affiliate links which means if you buy it from this link I might receive a small commission but the price is the same for you.

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  1. It’s a relay good post, because it points how to find your uniqueness and differentiate yourself from others.Personally, it rise some of the questions I’m asking my self these days, looking for my place. Dorie’s guide looks good , so will try it.
    Even so the interview is quite long, it worth the time it talks about Linked In, mailing lists, how to become an expert, blogging , Dorie’s ways and some other growth ideas.
    Thanks Peg!

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