The recipe to do your “it” better
Editor’s note: this blog was scheduled for release before the events of May 1, 2015. Our sympathies are with Sheryl Sandberg!
For the majority of us on Pinterest, when we see that intricate up-do hairstyle or elaborate six-tier rainbow cake, we think – “I could never do that”. But someone who is a thought leader will look at that same cake or hairstyle and think – “Not only can I do that – but I can do it even better”. Thought leaders as we know them in business, such as Richard Branson or Sheryl Sandberg are not often thought of in the same breath as elaborate cakes or intricate hairstyles (although you do have great hair Mr. Branson!), so how can we apply their successes to our own lives? How can we look at the elaborate six-tier rainbow cake that Sheryl Sandberg has created and think – not only can I do that, but I can do it better?
1) What is your “it”: What is your cake? What is the idea you have that you just can’t get off your mind? What are you better at than anyone else? What do you dream about doing? When you can pinpoint that, then you will have your cake. Try this strengths assessment from Vocation Village to help.
2) What is your story about “it”: It’s time to personalize your cake. What’s your story about the cake? Why is the cake so personal to you? Did your grandma used to bake a cake like that? Did your father teach you how to bake? People don’t just want to know what you know; they want to know why you know it. Your story is your why. Look back at old photos or journals. Talk to friends and family. Sometimes we need someone to tell us what we are good at. Don’t be afraid to ask!
3) Speak about it: So you wanna make a six-tier rainbow cake your thing? The thing you base your thought leadership status on? Start talking cake. Talk to the people you know. Talk to people you don’t know. Talk to the people who will be directly affected by your cake – the people who are hungry for your cake. If someone out there has a question about cake, you should be the one they are asking. Find the people hungry for your idea (even if they don’t know it yet) and start talking – Go!
4) Write about it: Every good cake needs a recipe and not just a recipe like my Babushka’s (Polish grandma) with her tsk of this and little bit of that and about this much of this. Your six-tier rainbow cake needs to be supported by research and studies and results not the personal measurements of my Babushka (according to the palm of her hand and that one spoon she uses). It needs to not only solve a problem – remember the hungry people – but it also needs to do it in a new way. Lots of people make cake, so why is yours so great? The trick is to convince your audience with your recipe without giving away all the secret ingredients.
5) Be prepared to defend it: Prepare yourself for the bake-off of your life. There will be people who say that the six-tier rainbow cake is silly. Maybe they will say it won’t actually help, but that it will hurt (but cake can’t hurt!). Maybe they will attack you personally, ignoring the good you are trying to do with your cake. The point is that there will always be people who don’t like cake. But once you have lured someone who professes to only like cookies over to the cake side, well then you know you’ve made it.
6) Work it: The first six-tier rainbow cake you make will forever be the original. It will be the foundation of all that you stand for. But don’t stop there. Keep trying new ingredients. Try a different shape. Does your six-tier rainbow cake have to go yellow, orange, and red, green, blue and then purple? What would happen if yellow and green were beside each other? You won’t know until you try. Your first taste of cake superiority shouldn’t be your last.
When I think of a six-tier rainbow cake, I don’t actually think of Sheryl Sandberg. I think of women, technology, and leadership. I think of her Ted talk, her book, and her inspiration for so many Lean-In women’s business groups across the world. I think of the countless articles that I read that tried to discredit, discourage and just plain diss Ms. Sandberg. And when I read or hear about Sheryl Sandberg, and other contemporary thought leaders, I also get hungry. Hungry to discover my own cake – and to eat it too.