Randi Levin: 5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry

An Interview With Abe Alon

Abe Alon
Authority Magazine

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Build networks. Community is key. I connect with everyone that brings me joy and value and I strive to mutually support them. Thought leaders are community leaders. They engage and uplift, they listen and innovate. My network is big and small. It consists of the raving fans who I will never meet who may be reading something I wrote right now, and it consists of the networking friends within groups and community that I continue to collect and celebrate. Everyone I know, knows someone else. These connections keep on giving.

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

Randi Levin CPC, founder & CEO, Randi Levin Coaching — is a nationally recognized transitional life strategist, keynote, author, thought leader, and reinvention expert. Founders, entrepreneurs, and those in transition hire her to empower bold decision-making to recalibrate, manage, and self-lead change and renewal. She supports her clients and audiences in redefining legacy and success in a moment-centric, action-forward way resulting in increased clarity, elevated self-leadership, and successful goal setting and getting.

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?

Coaching is my own next chapter and reinvention. After almost 2 decades in corporate and a long gig as a SAHM, I successfully launched my coaching business, stepping bravely into the unknown as a founder and entrepreneur. I am proud to say that I am now in year 8 as a nationally recognized transitional life strategist and reinvention expert supporting others to recalibrate and choose anew in all aspects of their lives. I like to believe that coaching found me.

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

I am an authority on thought leadership because I, myself, am boldly a thought leader! I believe that one of the secret ingredients to building and living a successful legacy is to leave people and situations better than I found them. My transitional coaching practice is predicated on self-leadership and for me that means thought leadership. I became a coach to support and help those in transition to navigate and recalibrate what is next in their careers and in their lives. I also became a coach so that I could build out a platform in which to speak, offer workshops, write, guest on podcasts, and share and impact wisdom and strategies on change and self-leadership. I love to engage in the responses and intelligent conversations that result from sharing my thoughts and to work with clients on building a life and a business that they direct, redirect, and choose.

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

One of my ongoing goals as a coach is having the opportunity to establish and build trust with my audiences and clients. When I launched as a founder, I knew that leading others successfully had to begin with how effectively I led myself. It made sense to me that to be memorable, I needed to actively DO memorable things. I challenge myself daily to build my network, and I work hard to support others. I began in a small way to share my ideas via workshops, blog posts, quotes, podcasts, and lectures. Guess what? People chose my thoughts. They opted into reading my posts, joining my network, working with me, and hiring me to speak for their organizations. I never know where a single idea can resonate with someone. So, I openly share ideas so that I can inspire and ignite intelligent conversations.

No one is born a thought leader, rather it is an acquired skill set that like a snowball, grows and picks up traction as it goes. This shift from expert to thought leader took about 3–4 years! The scope and impact of my work slowly changed. My coaching sessions became more fun and engaging and my tools and strategies came to life. I like to think of this twist in my business as me stepping into myself. I think that every thought leader experiences a shift after honing their craft for a while. It is at this juncture that their ideas ignite. While I was initially surprised to witness my own growth, I know now that it is necessary to acknowledge and to celebrate this next level and chapter of impact and to keep innovating.

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?

When I launched my coaching practice over 8 years ago, I signed up to earn my certification in coaching. My initial belief was that I would have to wait 9+ months until I got certified to effectively launch and have paying clients. Boy was I wrong! When I registered via phone for coaching school, the administrator on the call took my credit card information and ended the call with the words, “just start.” I remember hanging up the phone in a daze. How could I start? I had never been a coach before, who would take me seriously? Yet, start I did. I opted into stepping out of the shadows of waiting and into the light of believing in myself. Being in action was transformative. I had my first paying clients before I ever took my first coaching class! If you want something don’t wait to begin. There are a million little things you can do to kick-start the change or launch you are seeking. Be bold and be in decision on what is possible and what you get to take ownership of.

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 must be able to genuinely self-lead. They possess a strong belief system, and they are confident and consistently focused on the value that they bring to a situation or relationship. That value is the sum of all their wisdom from every chapter of their life. Despite being seen as an expert, a thought leader is always innovative and curious, seeking solutions and tapping into the needs of others via their own drive and intuition. Thought leaders are interested in spreading the word on their own ideas, strategies, and products. By contrast, a traditional leader manages people and their flow of ideas within an organization, and they are often not the source of those ideas, but rather how they lead and integrate people and ideas forward. Influencers are knowledgeable about other people’s products and information and are a resource for illuminating the work of others. One can be both a thought leader and an influencer, but the distinction still exists between original thoughts, content, and products versus mainstream and universal thoughts and products, and ideas.

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?

Honing my thought leadership skills has been very rewarding on all levels. It is an honor to engage with a network of people who trust you, listen to you, and seek to know more. It is also very validating to be asked to write an article or to be quoted or featured across media outlets because your idea is worthy and important in helping someone else grow and evolve. As a thought leader, I am also a paid speaker, and my workshops and coaching packages are well received and coveted. I often have potential clients reach out who loved something I said on a podcast, in an article, or from the stage. Something resonated with them, and they want to hire me to support them in achieving results for themselves.

Investing in myself and my business early on was also helpful in streamlining the speed and effectiveness of my launch. I did not navigate entrepreneurship by myself, but rather I hired a coach at the start of becoming a founder to support me in building out my vision and I continued to challenge myself to engineer and pitch my way into prominent groups and situations that aligned with my brand. I did so from a value-add proposition, through networking and building relationships that endure. I was mindful early on of creating raving fans who support my ideas and champion my successes and with whom I can mutually support.

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?

Thought leadership is instrumental in expanding brand. Standing for something creates a specific memorable aura around a body of work. From my perspective, here are some ways that being a thought leader can support business growth:

  • Content Creation: Doing interviews via podcasts, social media lives, articles, or round-ups not only validate me as an expert, but they also serve as a “training ground” allowing me to plant the seeds of new ideas and strategies. Answering questions on a specific topic highlights my ideas and expertise, and it also affords me the opportunity to build upon those ideas with updated and future material. All the materials that I create for a talk, workshop, podcast, or article are recycled over and over. The more I maximize my work and recirculate it, the more value I get for the time I put into creating it and the more people that I get to share those thoughts and idea with.
  • Scope: Pitching national publications or authors directly not only expands my network, but it also enables me to offer fresh ideas that can either become paid content or are the beginning of a new concept for a workshop or event. Either way I win because my investment in sharing my ideas will have a space to bloom.
  • Invite Only Networks: Forming and managing my own invite only networks via social media groups, Clubhouse, or within other business groups, established me as a go-to resource on transition and next chapters. The more visible I am, the more visible I am! Being active as a thought leader within closed communities is very validating and almost always leads to further engagement and new opportunities and clients.
  • Visibility: The more I am recognized for the work that I do, the more that I am googled. When someone is looking for the services I offer, i want to pop up on their google search engine, and this happens when I am associated with an array of features, articles, and events that bring light and validity to my brand. Every little thing that I do contributes to the growth of the whole. I am my brand, so I am careful to bring value and inspiration to the things that I do in my business and in my life.
  • Being The Expert: Establishing myself as a go-to resource on specific topics and ideas is cash in the bank. From monetized keynotes to paid articles and offers, taking ownership of the thought leader space leads to multiple streams of income within my business. Start from wherever you are in your business and take ownership of the special value that only you can bring to a situation. There are thousands of coaches, yet no one has my coaching style or my strategies or ideas. Acting on that is at the foundation of thought leadership.

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.

  • Get published or quoted. I started with my own newsletter and blog posts and expanded to pitch and write for major media outlets. While there is a lot of work involved in this, my content creation can be used and re-used in other arenas, so I am creating an ongoing larger body of work.
  • Pitch other authors and reporters. I actively pitch HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to be quoted in roundups and industry wide initiatives. I follow up and connect with reporters who use my work to be a resource for them again. I like that this is an ever-changing array of article ideas, and it also helps me to keep a close eye on the pulse of trending topics and concepts.
  • Be interviewed. Being the featured expert for an event, podcast, TV spot, or panel establishes me as the go-to expert on that topic. Being in the spotlight spotlights my brand and keeps me front of mind. Every interview counts because you never know where someone will watch or listen to something you recorded and hire you.
  • Build networks. Community is key. I connect with everyone that brings me joy and value and I strive to mutually support them. Thought leaders are community leaders. They engage and uplift, they listen and innovate. My network is big and small. It consists of the raving fans who I will never meet who may be reading something I wrote right now, and it consists of the networking friends within groups and community that I continue to collect and celebrate. Everyone I know, knows someone else. These connections keep on giving.
  • Build Your Own Lane: I feel strongly that I do not need to do what other coaches are doing, nor compete head-on with other industry experts. My thought leadership is mine alone and so I work hard to establish boundaries that keep me staying true to my coaching brand and to what I most value and enjoy without comparisons. Innovation is key for me, so I work on projects and with people who are committed to change and growth. When I first started as a coach, I often compared my progress with others. I learned quickly that the only real comparison I can make is with and to myself. Getting real with my wins supports me in honoring my journey and in celebrating the process right along with the goal.

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?

Brene Brown is a fantastic thought leader. I personally enjoy following her because she has unique yet relatable perspectives on managing the human condition. She is human just like me and because she leads with that, she makes me think and engage. I believe that a good thought leader is someone who challenges ideas and supports you in redirecting your perspectives. That is the space in which growth and change come alive! Brene is a thought leader who leans into her research. She studies people and her ideas support understanding how to relate better and more accurately to others as well as to ourselves. She is relatable and reliable and she always delivers.

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

I don’t believe that the term thought leadership is overused. Perhaps it is just misunderstood. Everyone is a thought leader. Everyone has brilliant ideas. What separates the masses from someone who becomes an active thought leader is the action one takes in sharing and imparting their ideas with others. My ideas are not the same ideas that others originate. They have my unique twist and perspective. That is the brilliance of thought leadership. Thought leadership is energy leadership, it is about touching lives and making people think and respond.

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

Burnout happens when someone loses sight of updating and activating their boundaries. They may feel the need to do everything “perfectly” by themselves to prove their self-worth. The best advice I have is to challenge the idea of perfection. Little in life is perfect, yet most is good. If you are setting the bar too high, challenge yourself to lower the bar a notch so that you can witness what is possible within the confines of today. I strive to give myself permission to realign my boundaries and to run my business and my life from the perspective of what I get to choose and enable. When I stay in choice, I stay in power and by default I stay in self-leadership. Choice deactivates the scarcity mindset of burnout and enables a menu of options to manage the moment.

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 would challenge everyone to create a habit of success and honor self-worth. It is common to give attention to what may not have been accomplished instead of all the small steps in the process that were wins. Taking a daily Success Inventory validates what is working and reengages us in the current moment with curiosity and choice. When I validate success, I negate fear, and I expand possibility.

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

A few years ago, I started redirecting my energy with 4 simple words “stay in the conversation.” This has become my daily mantra and I challenge myself in business and in life to “stay in the conversation” with my goals, with my relationships, with my network, and with my clients. From the perspective of “what I get to do,” I more organically lead my day.

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. :-)

Reese Witherspoon is not only an outstanding actress but an accomplished entrepreneur and an ongoing champion of women. I would love to have a one-to-one heartfelt and intelligent conversation with her. She has built a multi-faceted empire from nothing except the power of her own intuition and the idea that she can. She is always challenging herself to do the extra ordinary and to mix things up in a meaningful and memorable way. Love it!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Join me on my website: https://RandiLevinCoaching.com

Join me in my private FB group The Recalibration Network: https://www.facebook.com/groups/recalibration

Join me on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RandiLevinCoaching

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/randilevincoach

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/randiclevin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/randilevincoach

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

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Abe Alon
Authority Magazine

Director of Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator