“We are in an age of unprecedented change, it’s a ‘revolutionary’ time to be alive! The question we need to be asking ourselves is - ‘Am I leading that change?’ I believe we all have a choice to step up into personal, professional and social leadership. We have a choice to become agents for change, amplifiers, thought leaders to upgrade our thinking and lead our very own revolutions.”

Hidden Pages

The thought leader's sales pitch 

When you are what is for sale, you can often confuse the client by rambling on and stuffing up the sale or pitch.

Thought Leaders often have to talk about themselves. I sometimes talk about Matt Church in the third person (second sign of madness). I've been doing this for so long that I have learned a couple of tricks to help me talk about this Matt Church guy.

Stage Names: My name is Matthew but I promote Matt Church. It is not ‘Beyonce' or ‘Will.i.am' status, but it helps.

Diagrams: I often rely on contextual diagrams or models to explain what I do. This way the focus is less on me, and more on my message.

Analogy: If I can explain what I do through an analogy it is easier to talk it up than if it is simply me I am talking about.

Future: Always focus on what is coming up as opposed to what you have done. What you have done is bragging. What it is you hope is going to happen, is exciting.

Rapport: People buy people. Be gracious, generous and positive in your conversations. If asked about a competitor the same rules apply.

Often as experts and Thought Leaders, we wish for someone else to sell us. The bottom line is, there is no-one better than you, to sell you.



A picture paints a thousand words

I heard a rumour, some might call it an urban myth, that John McFarlane - the former CEO (some years back) of ANZ Bank, had a fabulous ability to translate complex messages into simple pictures.

The story goes, that he often would draw these messages on the back of coasters, paper napkins and scraps of paper. It’s also said that these ‘spontaneous illustrations’ were often carried around in the pockets of those who sat with him during the ‘conversation’.

This is literal evidence that a picture truly does paint a thousand words. There is an art to this illustrating, an art that you can learn.

Spend some time thinking through what you want to say to others and see if there is a simple diagram, illustration or model you could draw, that encapsulates what you are trying to say. In posh language, this is the art of communicating through context.

Here are some tips:

  1. Keep it simple – the less words the better. It’s a picture you’re creating, not a shopping list.
  2. Think of a word picture (metaphor) that may support the diagram you are drawing.
  3. Create it in front of the audience, not in advance. They feel a part of the creation that way.

In my mind, this is the single most important communication skill you need when working in a world of too much information.



The 12 questions every thought leader needs to ask

As a thought leader, when selling your ideas to current and future clients, you need to break down your business into six key activities - marketing, sales, relationships, referrals, recommendations and positioning. These activities are then divided into two defined categories, Push and Pull. Based on these activities, ask yourself these 12 questions… 


Marketing is where it all begins. It’s about generating new interest in what you do. Ogilvy, the original adman said, ‘we know half your marketing works. We just don’t know which half!’This is why split-testing and online analytics are so exciting. They let us test and validate our marketing efforts.  

1. Are you able to measure the effect of any marketing right now? 

2. How can you use social media and other strategies to raise the profile of your business?


If marketing creates new interest, then it’s your formal sales process that generates new business.  Meet new people, understand their needs and make offers.

3. Do you have a clear understanding of how 'what you do' differs from others? 

4. Have you identified what problems you fix? Do your ideal clients express these problems as true for them?


It’s easier to sell more to an existing customer than it is to findnew customers. This is such a fundamental truth. You already have trust, and you already understand their business. So, be sure to find out how you can give more to the people you already serve.

5. Have you classified your clients into A, B and C categories? 

6. Are you working in your A categories to offer them more value every quarter?

These three activities - marketing, sales and relationship development are what we call PUSH activities. They require pretty significant exertion, but they do result in more business. The next three activities are PULL based.


Word of mouth is powerful and most definitely one of the most impactful ways to grow your business. Do good work, create raving fans and enjoy the glory. The bottom line is that referrals are about getting great at what you do and then getting known for that greatness by giving extraordinary service, going the extra mile and consistently doing great work.

7. Do you know how customers find out about you?

8. Do you have a system for saying thank you? 


This is what happens when you enter into formal and informal joint ventures. These relationships become active referrers and may, in some cases, involve profit sharing and commissions. Pathology labs work with medical practices in this way.

9. Who already has your client’s trust?

10. Is there a way you can partner in value with them? 


This is about being the market leader. It’s about being known for what you know. Market leaders are often innovating and driving best practice. They don’t follow, they set the standard that others chase and embrace. They are the industry Thought Leaders.

11. Who is the market leader in your industry?

12. What opportunities can you identify where you can speak, write or comment on how things should be done in your industry? 

You need to be across all 6 activities but work from the top down as well and not simply the bottom up.


Ignite talk example



Complimentary Download | White Paper: The Brevity Mandate

Click on the image to download the White Paper
One of the greatest challenges for thought leaders is to communicate a lot, while saying very little. In this fabulous 'Brief' on being Brief, author Joe McCormack explains why we need to smarten things down and get to the point. A must read for all Thought Leaders.

“The business world today is full of information overload and there is not enough time to sift through it. If you cannot capture people’s attention and deliver your message with brevity, you’ll lose them.


For starters, the discipline to capture and manage elusive mindshare now shapes and defines professional success. Shorter e-mails, better organized updates, and tighter and more engaging presentations are immediate indicators that you’ve got what it takes to succeed in an attention economy.


Getting to the point is a non-negotiable standard. The reasons why are plentiful."

Just do what you do best

I think the smartest thing we can do is get clear on what we do best and do that.

If you are best at building relationships in person, then set up your life so that you do more of that and less of the things that take you away from that.

If you are best at walking through the details of a project - line-by-line, then set up your life so you get to do more of that and less of the things that take you away from this strength.

The simple idea is to focus on your strengths. So why don’t we do this more? Here are three possible reasons:

1. We don’t think we are gifted in anything
2. We think we are gifted in everything
3. We don’t allow others to help us fill the gaps.

I will give the first two a few lines and then get on with the major one.

Problem 1: We don’t think we are gifted in anything.  
ANSWER: Get over it!

Problem 2: We think we are gifted in everything.  
ANSWER: Get over yourself!

Problem 3; is where most people fail to work in their strengths. Assuming you don’t suffer from the first two, then you need to accept that for you to achieve anything, you will have to learn to rely on others to get things done. This is hard because you believe either or all of the below;

  • They don’t do it well
  • You don’t trust them
  • They don’t do what they say they will
  • They don’t seem to get what you are saying

Fix all of these and others, by identifying their unique intelligence and building teams that tap into those talents.

So why do you think we don't focus on our strengths?



Speak On

When preparing for a big audience presentation, there are several things that can be done to give your speech a bit of "wow".

Here are 3 ideas you can use:

  • Obsess about your message
  • Design a process for the speech
  • Create a conversation
Let me explain...

Obsess about your message  
Anyone can tell you about the person who impressed them on stage but broke all the rules. They didn’t move from the lectern, they didn’t have a modulated voice and they jingled keys in their pocket whilst they spoke. They broke all the rules! AND YET, they were totally compelling…. Why? It's because they had something to say that you wanted to hear. Do not get up to speak until you have first spent some time thinking. Obviously this is what THOUGHT LEADERS is all about. Forgive me for the plug but we know how to teach you how to do that better than anyone on the planet.

Design a process for the speech  
Once you are clear about WHAT you want to say then start thinking through HOW you will say it. Don’t think about techniques like where you will stand and how loud you will speak but rather "What is the emotional or story journey that the audience will travel along?" Make sure that at least every 7 minutes there is a major energy shift. Highs and lows, ups and downs, fast and slow.

Create a conversation  
The best public speakers make you feel like they wrote the speech just for you. The key to making this happen is to be in conversation with your audience. Three ways you can do this:

  • Interview a few people before you turn up to understand what they are going through and use these examples in your speech
  • Ask rhetorical questions that demonstrate an understanding of their world
  • Start you presentation in the room and walk into the audience throughout your presentation

Work harder on speaking better in public and take your message to a new level.



Can you feel it?

There is a critical mass developing in the world of smart. Smart people are speaking out for what they want. And, there are many types of clever!


  • It's in the massive shift from monopolies and control paradigms to meritocracies and empower paradigms - The net is driving this.
  • It's in the discernment around substance and value with commercial offerings. People are moving away from long form sales letters and money-back guarantees to legitimate learning partnerships - Gen-Y is hugely responsible for this.
  • It’s in the shift from annoying marketing to 'Just for me, the way I want it' - Highly competitive marketplaces are driving this.
So, what to do?
  1. Focus on servicing people around what you know and love. There is no room for you to exploit a marketplace you know nothing about. Your expertise is what it is and always has been.
  2. Become obsessive around delivering value. Work on a 10x return on investment with anything you sell. Can the end user get 10 times the value of the their physical and intangible investments? (BTW: It's about aiming for this, not promising this! You are 100% responsible for your end and so are they...)
  3. Reboot your knowledge every 90 days. Thought leaders are at the leading edge of thinking. Imagine that everything you knew last quarter was out of date this quarter (it’s not, but that’s a commercially useful mindset).
The smart (and no, I don’t mean high IQ) will drive all value and lead many of the commercial innovations going forward.

That’s why we at Thought Leaders have hitched our cable to the mantra “Helping Clever People Be Commercially Smart”.

Complimentary Download | White Paper: Who's got your back? 

This month's white paper, Who's got your back?, was written by Keith Ferrazzi.
Why you need the "Lifeline Relationships" that create success and won't let you fail.

“Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you will find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues. These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of both professional and personal life, but what they all have in common is a unique kind of connection with each other that I’ve come to call lifeline relationships. These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed far more than others.

There’s a good chance that you’ve already experienced the power and potential of lifeline relationships at some point in your life. Imagine some of the attributes of the best bosses you’ve ever had—the kind of boss who encourages you, who gives you space to grow, who appreciates your efforts, who doesn’t micromanage but guides your development with wisdom, and who handles your slip-ups with firmness, understanding, and candor. Or think back to that good friend or family member who dropped everything to be there for you at a critical juncture in your life and didn’t let you fail. Picture that associate you had at work who took a risk for you, and whose influence still touches you today. 

If you’ve ever had an important person or group of people in your life who’ve shepherded you in the right direction—even if you’ve had just a taste of it—you know what I mean.” 


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