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Author Jason Gelios: 5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry

An Interview With Abe Alon

As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Gelios.

Jason is a Top Producing Realtor, Author of ‘Think Like a Realtor’, Creator and host of ‘The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show’, and Expert Media Contributor of real estate expertise across the globe. Jason is known for his real world knowledge of buying and selling residential real estate while educating others on the in’s and out’s of the process.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Thanks for having me! My journey started to take shape in my early 20’s when I was working odd jobs and not really focused on a specific career path. I always had a strong work ethic, but felt that I was not really motivated by the jobs I held. I was working for the weekend so to speak; you could say I was a ship without a sail. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I really got inspired to improve my situation and to become more than I was. I watched as she worked diligently toward earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Seeing her rewarded for her hard work and ambition really inspired me to change my life and pursue a career that I could really be proud of. Something that would get me excited to wake up every day and achieve great things.

As I researched different career paths, a family member told me that I should be in sales because of my personality. This comment opened up the possibility of that path. After looking at the different types of sales positions and industries, I decided to go into the mortgage field. This was the start of my journey towards becoming a REALTOR and growing a successful brand and business from the ground up. By implementing my hard work ethic and developing a ‘Client For Life’ philosophy, I continued to see successes that contributed to my clients becoming raving fans.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

It wasn’t until later in my career that I sought out to be a ‘thought leader’. When I made the switch from being a successful mortgage professional to a licensed Realtor, I wanted to stand out and be known as my own brand; a person of value and a trusted resource for information. I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing in their marketing. People are bombarded with marketing messages that tell them to buy something instantly. These types of messages tend to get tuned out. While it’s understandable for a business or brand to want to sell something quickly, it’s important to try to stand out so that they aren’t always working too hard to gain new business.

I had noticed many real estate agents were not doing what it took to stand out from the herd in their marketing efforts. Many were implementing the same formula that other agents follow. This is not the way to stand out and attract attention to what you do as a business or brand.

I decided to share my expertise in real estate with others by creating video content based around answering questions from home buyers and sellers. I had studied video production in high school and had a passion for it, but I had to get comfortable being in front of the camera. After creating some videos and eventually launching my real estate show titled ‘The AskJasonGelios Show’ on social media, I started to really stand out to those around me, including my colleagues. I began to be sought out to train other agents in my office on how to create videos like the ones I did.

While I’m certainly not the first real estate agent to share their expertise through video, it did help me stand out while inspiring other agents to try video content marketing for their own brand. To this day, I still have colleagues sharing with me that they found one of my videos valuable. As I created more video content, I started to gain the attention of other real estate offices looking to do the same. This inspired me to write my real estate book ‘Think Like a Realtor’ to further share my expertise and message in my favorite medium out there, a printed book. My goal was a simple one, to share my message across as many platforms as I could handle. Positioning yourself as an expert with a printed book is a great way to get people’s attention. People are impressed by the fact that someone took the time to write a book. There is still a place for printed books in this digital world, and showcasing your expertise in a print format should not be overlooked.

When we fast forward to my life today, I have the privilege of being featured in major media outlets across the globe for my real estate expertise and personal development knowledge. Being recognized by reputable outlets has accelerated my brand and has allowed me to share my message across new horizons. This was the moment I knew I was on to something great and that I was building my brand as a ‘thought leader’ in my industry.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The most interesting time in my career was when I had the opportunity to share some personal tips about how we can avoid living an average life and achieve happiness through our work. This was for a short segment with a major media outlet with millions of viewers. The topic was how to build resilience to handle the tough times that occur professionally and personally. It was very satisfying to be a part of such a large scale series making an impact on people across the globe.

This experience taught me that I should not only share my expertise of real estate, but also my personal development tips and how to achieve what we want out of life. Since then, I have been open to personal achievement interviews and articles, because I do have a story to tell that will hopefully inspire others. I’ve been down and out while searching for success and had to learn how to apply my knowledge to keep at my goal of creating a life I wanted to live.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I will never forget when I was showing a client this older home situated on multiple acres of land in rural Metro Detroit. The home was dimly lit making it difficult to navigate through the layout. I was instructed by the listing agent to be sure we don’t let the cats out of the upstairs room. As we were walking through the home, my client opened the door leading to the upstairs bungalow area. In a matter of seconds, about half a dozen cats came running past us in a mad rush to get out of that area. This startled us half to death! After the mishap and notifying the listing agent that we had let the cats out by accident, we had a nice laugh about it. Although I don’t think the agent or seller were too happy.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is? How is a thought leader different from a typical leader? How is a thought leader different from an influencer?

A ‘thought leader’’ is someone who knows what their message is and gains a following by sharing that message effectively across various platforms, while changing the game of how a business or brand is perceived through value based marketing. A ‘thought leader’ swims against the tide to evoke a response that resonates with others. They don’t do what everyone else has done. They share their message with their own voice.
I think of a typical leader as someone who runs a team, develops and manages team culture and energizes others to accomplish a goal. While this type of leader may be good at those things, I don’t see a typical leader doing the tasks or having the focus that a ‘thought leader’ has. I see a typical leader more as an employee and less of a business minded individual. You see typical leaders in large companies managing groups of people never to really put themselves in the spotlight. ‘Thought leaders’ just don’t think this way. They want to be known for their expertise and make that effort to do so.

When we compare a ‘thought leader’ to an influencer, we see that they aren’t so much a ‘thought leader’, but a personality liked by many. While they are similar in theory, a ‘thought leader’ shares ideas and inspires different ways of thinking about ideas. In my own profession, there are influencers I follow and find interesting to watch. However, it’s the ‘thought leader’ that pertain more to what I want to do, or change, about my work and projects. I have a stronger interest in ‘thought leaders’ because they demonstrate the knowledge they have and the expertise to back it up. I don’t seek out influencers for that same purpose. ‘Thought leaders’ keep me informed of areas that are important to me.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader? Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

When I decided to become a ‘thought leader’ in my industry, I soon realized the benefits and how profound they are. Seeing your expertise featured in multiple media outlets is a great way to display a level of trust to others. People want to know that they are getting the right information from a reliable source trusted by others. By positioning yourself as an expert, you stand out from your competition. There is nothing more beneficial than sharing your featured expertise with those you want to do business with.

Let’s say someone is referred to me by a friend or family member and they see that I have a strong online presence and that I’m a trusted ‘thought leader’ in my industry. Chances are they received three other referrals with none having an online presence or validation. This alone makes them more inclined to hire me for what they need to accomplish. It also shows that I am serious about my work and that I care how I am perceived in the world.

Being a ‘thought leader’ also provides those looking for expertise in any given topic a trusted source to get reputable information. In my real estate profession, one of my daily goals is to stand out from the crowd and not be washed out amongst the competition. On my quest to be considered a thought leader, I implemented video marketing into my efforts. This helped me accomplish becoming known as a trusted resource for real estate expertise. I share factual information and my opinion on topics without hesitation. I feel that ‘thought leaders’ are not afraid of what others think or feel about them. In essence, they create their own path. This type of activity will bring an abundance of opportunity to a brand or business.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

Any business or brand can benefit from multiple people knowing about what they do. One of the biggest benefits is the way it can help a business or brand stand out from the rest. Sharing expertise in any given topic through social media, or various websites, can not only rank a business higher with the internet search engines, but it can also help on a local level either when someone searches your name on the web, or receives your information through a referral source. Being a thought leader is a differentiator that could give you that winning edge. The best thing is, not many professionals are doing it, so the amount of opportunity out there is huge.

I can share with you multiple times where I was hired by someone who received multiple referrals from others, yet when they went to research every name, I had the most trustworthy online presence. This is because I took the time to build something that conveys me as a thought leader. Having a website, sharing articles and interviews I have been featured in and tips about my industry, have provided me new clients and opportunities that I could not have gained through traditional marketing.

Becoming a ‘thought leader’ builds trust because it speaks volumes on its own merit. Somebody could come across a helpful article or interview I was in and decide to contact me. This is powerful because it provides a win for both sides. People want experts to solve their problems and brands want more awareness and opportunity.

Another benefit to being considered a ‘thought leader’ is the opportunity it provides to build your network. Taking your network to another level can increase your chance of opportunity to receive other benefits that build your brand. Not to mention the inspiration to keep you going through difficult times. Gaining the exposure to a larger network of people opens us up to a world of opportunity. I know in my own endeavors, I have been blessed with the chance to meet people that I would have not otherwise had access to had I not built up a brand that is based on trust and dependability. Many local professionals or businesses need to think bigger about their brand and figure out how they can relay the value they provide. They often don’t see the bigger potential of what they could go after.

When I sought to write my real estate book, Think Like a Realtor, I wasn’t looking to just spread the word in my local area of Southeast Michigan. I wanted anyone in any area who had an interest in learning about the buying and selling of real estate to have access to my book. I wanted to spread my message further in my favorite medium, a printed book. At that moment, I transformed from being a local professional into being sought out all over the world for my expertise in my field. This formula can work for anyone in any industry, provided they put in the work. Taking the time to share value with others can create opportunities that we never even dreamed of. The key is to set your sights higher and have the right tools to earn that exposure and gained network.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry? Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

1. Figure out what your message is and be clear and consistent.

It’s important to know what your message is that you want to convey. This will make it much easier to take the first steps towards becoming a ‘thought leader’. If we don’t have a clear and concise message to share, we won’t be effective in communicating our message to others.

2. Create content in your own voice.

Nobody likes watching a commercial, unless it’s during the Super Bowl. Yet so many businesses and brands share spam content through their marketing. Oftentimes this turns people off because it’s what every other business or brand does and fails to connect. What people will watch is helpful content that provides solutions to them directly. They will even share it if it provides the value they seek and the answers they need. Becoming the person that people go to for advice is priceless in any business. To maximize our opportunity, we must remember that a ‘thought leader’ creates and shares value based marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing to others. It’s genuinely helpful and is perceived as beneficial.

Let’s say a local plumber wants to stand out in their area and be known as the local expert. They start by creating ‘how to’ videos on subjects like installing a toilet, or changing a shower handle while mixing in some humor to liven up the videos. The plumber then decides to create a weekly show where people can ask questions about certain areas of plumbing. If the plumber stays the course, they certainly would stand out in their area and drive business their way. Say they gain a new client, this person then shares their content with those that they know to further their reach. Now this plumber is getting more exposure, gaining new business and being perceived as a thought leader by others.

We must also remember that while the information may not be new, it can be shared in our own voice with our own opinion. People want to do business with people they like. Being a ‘thought leader’ allows the person who is looking to do business with us a chance of feeling like they are making the right decision by reaching out. No direct mail postcard is that good.

3. Share your expertise, without the spam.

This one may be difficult for some, but I feel it’s important to share the value without coming across as spam. It’s ok to create content with a call to action towards the end, but the majority of the content should be about providing helpful information and helping those who consume it. In other words, put the other person first when creating your content.

4. Consistently put out value.

Once we know what our message is and we start creating content, it’s time to be consistent about getting the message out. In my opinion, some form of content should be going out daily. This could be a blog post, podcast episode, video or a simple post on social media. Being consistent is how to break through the noise. I recommend setting a schedule for all your posts and making sure that you stick to it. Starting off, I would not focus on how many likes or views you get, because you are building the foundation to becoming a ‘thought leader’. It will take time and there will be times where you may question why you’re still doing what you’re doing, but by hanging in there and doing the work, you will get to a point where it becomes worth it.

5. Spread your message anyway and anywhere you can.

While I’m not a fan of being overloaded, your message should be shared across as many platforms as you can handle. The social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk taught me this simple rule. If you create a video, turn that into an audio podcast episode, then into a written blog post. You can take a longer video and edit each idea into shorter videos. Getting your message out there any way and any where you can should be top of mind.

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach?

A great example of a thought leader is the social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. He is known for his expertise in social media marketing while sharing his expertise in a way that attracts others. He is the definition of what a ‘thought leader’’ is because he is knowledgeable in his field while using various platforms to spread his message. Each piece of content he creates has his own spin on it, which commands a following. What aspiring ‘thought leaders’ should know is that it’s ok to share your message of expertise with others in a way that is authentic to your style or brand. When I share my expertise on a specific topic, I like to mix facts with my opinion so that people get my take on something. That’s why people tune into my content to begin with.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

I feel the term ‘thought leader’ is still relevant because it best describes someone that fits the bill. I can’t think of any better way to describe someone who expresses their thoughts and knowledge through their platforms to benefit others. It’s appropriate and ok to be considered a thought leader without sounding like a million other people. Being considered a ‘thought leader’ should be taken as a compliment. That we have done something good for others and that we are on the right path.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

I think burnout happens when passion is lost. I share a lot of real estate expertise across multiple platforms which can get repetitive. When I had the opportunity to start sharing more personal achievement advice and stories, I jumped on it. The advice that I would give other ‘thought leaders’ is to not be afraid to change things up a bit. Don’t get stuck doing the same thing the same way. Switching it up and keeping things fresh will keep you passionate about your work and keep you on the path towards success.

There was a time when I felt unsure about spreading my thoughts on how I overcame my own obstacles and achieved my own success. I realized that it ignited a whole other level of passion while complimenting what I wanted to share and do by giving out value to others and being a trusted professional. When you are changing things up and being creative with what you’re doing, you won’t get burnt out. You will thrive and achieve what you want in life because you are following a bigger goal. One that you set for yourself.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I am a big fan of the pay it forward trend and how that works. Whether it’s paying for someone’s coffee in line or helping out a neighbor with a difficult task, these kind gestures could change the trajectory of someone’s day for the better. I would inspire a movement to pay it forward and apply a kind gesture to others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I absolutely love the quote from the late Zig Ziglar which goes “You Can Have Everything In Life You Want, If You Will Just Help Enough Other People Get What They Want. This is not to say that you should give to get, but to give people what they want, and allow that positive karma to come back your way. When I share this with others, they see how powerful this quote is because oftentimes people forget what is important. I use this quote as my affirmation to put others first on a daily basis. This also ties into not worrying too much about everything being perfect. People want value and are willing to accept that something may not be perfect. Other people may not even know it’s not perfect and accept it. The idea of ‘perfect’ is different in the eye of the creator vs. the recipient.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Christopher Gardner, the man behind the book and movie ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’. For those who don’t know, the word Happyness is spelled this way due to how the place who watched his son had it written on the wall. His story of overcoming personal obstacles while going after his goal to provide a better life for him and his son is heartfelt. It seems like no matter what situation he was thrown into, he managed to overcome it to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming successful in his chosen field. He is also one of the great ‘thought leaders’ in his industry and continues to inspire through his efforts.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I invite people to connect with me via my website www.ItsAllAboutTheRealEstate.com and www.JasonGelios.com. Social media is great too!

https://twitter.com/jasongelios

https://www.youtube.com/c/ItsAllAboutTheRealEstate

https://www.facebook.com/jasongeliosrealtor/

https://www.instagram.com/jasongeliosrealtor/

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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