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How to Create Your Body of Work with Pamela Slim

February 5, 2024
EPISODE 157
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command higher fees, and work with better clients.

 

Are you struggling to gain visibility and be seen as an authority in your field? Do you feel like you have important knowledge and expertise to share, but you’re not sure how to package it up into a compelling narrative that attracts your ideal audience?

In this episode of The Recognized Authority podcast, host Alastair McDermott interviews Pamela Slim, author of the award-winning book Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together. They have an enlightening discussion about the power of developing a coherent body of work over the course of your career to build up recognized authority and become known as a thought leader.

  • Learn why niche expertise is essential for standing out
  • Discover how to shape your personal narrative deliberately
  • Get tips for creating Authority Content that demonstrates your knowledge
  • Understand the key consistent touchpoints to focus on

If you want people to see you as an authority, you need to learn how to connect the dots and communicate clearly all the value you offer. Tune in now to pick up strategic advice from Pamela Slim on crafting your unique body of work.

Show Notes

Key Insights

  • Your body of work encompasses everything you create, contribute and impact over your lifetime
  • Niche down into a clear area of specialty to stand out
  • Test out ideas through content creation before codifying them into products/services
  • Reliably create content on a consistent basis as the foundation
  • Research and assessments are powerful types of content
  • Use a primary “beacon” like a newsletter to establish touchpoints
  • Weave together the narrative to connect the dots across projects

Strategies

  • Survey your target audience to deeply understand pain points
  • Identify common questions people have that you can address
  • Create a lead magnet/free opt-in offer to start capturing emails
  • Write long-form “cornerstone” content pieces to explain expertise
  • Choose one primary channel like a podcast to focus on at first

 

Learn more about Pamela here:

Guest Bio

Pamela Slim is an award-winner author, speaker and agency owner who has spent three decades helping business owners scale their businesses and IP. Pam’s agency specializes in the design and development of certification and licensing programs. Pam is the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation (Penguin Portfolio, 2009), Body of Work (Penguin Portfolio, 2014) and The Widest Net (McGraw Hill, November, 2021, winner of Best Sales and Marketing Book of 2021 from Porchlight Books). Pam and her husband Darryl co-founded the K’é Community Lab in Mesa, Arizona, where they host scores of BIPOC entrepreneurs and contribute to the local social, health and economic development of their community.

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS
content, creating, people, work, writing, business, talking, audience, book, experts, newsletter, thought, market, cubicle nation, podcast, widest net, body, important, expertise, deliberate

SPEAKERS
Voiceover, Alastair McDermott, Pamela Slim

 

Alastair McDermott  00:01

I have a great episode for you today, we’re going to have a super conversation about what is a body of work and why it’s important. And I have a super guest for you,

 

Voiceover  00:12

too, The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.

 

Alastair McDermott  00:24

And before we get to today’s episode, I just want to remind you about my email list. I’m now emailing workday week daily. So that is five times a week, you can find that the recognized authority.com/email. And I’m sending tips on how to build your authority. So today, I have an amazing guest for you somebody who was recommended to me by several different people. And in fact, I came across her work in the wild several years ago, and I hadn’t realized it. So let me bring on Pamela Slim. Pamela, thank you so much for being on the show. I’m delighted to be here. So Pamela, you are an author, a three time author, I have one of your books right here. And this is the one we’re going to be discussing a bit today, that’s body of work. You also wrote Escape from Cubicle Nation, which I just realized I came across that book years ago, and I hadn’t realized that you were the author. And but I distinctly remember that the title because it’s so unique. And you’ve recently written the widest net as well. And, and they’re all commercially published, I think, as well, which is, which is cool, and award winning. So I’m really happy to bring you on. And the thing that I was most interested in was, when I heard the title of this book, body of work, I was super interested, because body of work is a concept that I think about a lot when I’m talking to people about building authority, and creating, you know, not just creating one thing, but creating lots of things, which in a collective could be their body of work. So is that how you think about body of work? Can you can you tell me a little bit about why it, how you think about it, and why it’s so important that you wrote an entire book called that?

 

Pamela Slim  01:58

Yes, the definition that I have in body of work about what body of work is, is everything that you create, contribute affect an impact throughout the course of your life. So it’s very all inclusive for one’s life. And the root of it. One of the reasons why I wrote body of work after having written Escape from Cubicle Nation where of course, I am passionate about entrepreneurship, been doing it 28 years myself, I’d love to help people start businesses. But I found that many people found it really hard, had a challenge, thought they wanted to do it, the dream was actually better than the reality and wanted to maybe go back and do something else. And I realized in through the lens of being a coach and a career coach that we had really limited ways that people thought about their life’s work and their career journey. It tended to be an either or thing. Either you follow the path of being an employee, which in the entrepreneurial world, sometimes people would throw all kinds of negative connotations to that, that I think are unfair. And or on the other side, that you just become this very successful entrepreneur that scales and scales and gets acquired by Google and lives a dream, sipping margaritas on the beach or something. And so from the context of individuals thinking about their body of work, I wanted a metaphor that people could use to give them flexibility to be experimenting and changing with all kinds of different things throughout the course of your of their life. So some people read the book that way, which I love, that helps give context to what they do. I was delighted and thrilled. This was back, probably in 2013, when I was writing it to have Brene, brown agreed to read the book and blurb it. And it was just so amazing to be to hear from her perspective, when I got I had actually put it out to her to request to do a blurb as we all do for people who have written books, and I didn’t hear and didn’t hear, we were passing the deadline where we needed him for publication. And then I got this, like screeching in all caps email from her that was like, Oh, my God, I hope it’s still we still have time. And what she was saying is that she even as we all probably know her story by now for people who have seen pronase work was like I had this hard time reconciling being this researcher and social worker around shame and vulnerability, but also having this mainstream, you know, author path. And she was describing how it helped to give her context, to understand exactly how the different pieces of her work fit together and how she could use them at different times to communicate what she does. So there’s there’s that very deliberate path that I think about for individuals of contextualizing their experience. There’s the other path, which I think you and I live every day, which is I also work with thought leaders to really help scale their impact through IP. And there’s very deliberate decisions that you make about what you actually create. What are those things that you bring to life often in the form of intellectual property, but Looks programs processes that allow your work to actually have an impact, because they’re delivered in such a way that is really helpful to people to be changing behavior.

 

Alastair McDermott  05:12

Okay, there’s, there’s a lot of different threads I would like to pull on in this conversation. One of those, so the people listening to this are typically experts in their field. And sometimes they have that expertise, but they don’t have much visibility, or recognition. And so one of the things that I think about is how do we get more visibility? And, you know, how are we seeing recognized as an authority recognized as a thought leader? So, when you’re thinking about that problem? How do you think about body of work? And how do you approach that? Can you tell me a little bit about your thought process? What’s important?

 

Pamela Slim  05:51

Yeah, so the subtitle for body of work is finding the thread that ties your story together. And one of the calls to action, the way that I talk every day to my clients about it is that it can be super frustrating for people who truly do have expertise. A lot of us have seen in the world, there’s, there’s the fad of expertise, like, hey, 10 step to being an expert in 30 days or less, which I always laugh at, like not possible. expertise is often developed over many decades and courses of study and experience and so forth. But it there, there is the part of really recognizing that we have individual responsibilities as thought leaders, if we want our work to get out in the world, we need to take responsibility for how it is that we’re describing it in such a way that it really connects with the market. And by the market. Obviously, there can be very different kinds of messages that we have. And we tell about our body of work. So for example, if you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re on stage, doing a keynote, in your area of interest, and your main audience, there are individual people who you want to touch and impact by that message. And let’s say you have one audience one day and the week that you’re speaking that are a women’s conference in Massachusetts, where you know that you might have a whole range of really, you know, accomplished women who have a context in some cases of being parents and multiple roles and experiencing gender inequity and all that. So the way that you might tell your story with your thought leadership to that audience could be different if the next week, you’re speaking to the MMA Association of America, where you might then be drawing on parts of your body of work that be related to the context of that audience as they’re thinking about it. So there’s a message like that, where you’re really sharing it with individuals, there can be messages in the way you’re framing your body of work when you’re approaching partners. But maybe you want to be doing brand partnerships, maybe you want to be doing a significant project with somebody. And so in that way, you’re having to explain what your body of work is, and help them understand why it is that they should trust you to not only have great information, but also be a solid, reputable partner, maybe a very different kind of story, I work with a lot of people that are getting close to exit and exiting their businesses, different kinds of story that you might tell to a potential acquirer of the business, where you’re really having to explain in many ways more the business context in which your IP lives. So there is, on one hand, I think just the theme of all of us that have been cranky, present company included when we sit back and we’re like Dagnabbit, or a stronger word, we see somebody who we know maybe be much less experienced than we are unless of an expert who’s gracing all of the stages talking about the thing that we’re experts in and we’re human to just say, that’s not fair, don’t they know that? I’m the one who has the answers? I argue it is our responsibility, if it’s important to you to be have a wider impact with your work to be figuring out how it is that you can get yourself on those stages. And you’re the one that really has to learn the skills, or implement the kind of business practices in order to be seen invisible. It actually was really the doorway into the widest net. Because once people really understand what they have, and what they want to create. The next question is how do I get it out at scale. And that’s really all about what the widest net is about. So it was all there’s always kind of a thread from one book to the next. But I think one of the starting places, is to recognize that I have never found that the market automatically just recognizes that’s an amazing person, and they are the world’s expert, we have to help shape that message and get it the places where it needs to get.

 

Alastair McDermott  09:39

Yeah, I think it goes back to Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come and that that does not apply when it comes to things like content marketing, creating authority content, you have to do more. Can you talk a little bit about that, like how do you approach that?

 

Pamela Slim  09:54

So I think in the context of ecosystems is the way that is really my framework and my point of view around marketing where, where you have an area of expertise you I generally think of for any of the clients who you’re working with. So regardless of who your client is of, it tends to be a corporate client. If it is an individual client, you think about it first, contextually of what is my client really trying to do? What is their over whelming problems that they’re trying to solve? What are their aspirations. And usually, by definition, they need to get a whole variety of different input from experts in particular areas to help them solve the problem. They need to get inspiration, hear from other people who have done it. Often they use products and services that help them to meet their needs. So just thinking of the shared audience that you and I have right, thought leaders with expertise, who were trying to get more visible, known and make more money and get their work to have more impact. Hopefully, they’re not just talking to just you or just me, they need IP attorneys and web designers and PR agents and book agents and publishing companies, they use software to run their business. So the first part for me is, is already saying based on who it is that you want to reach, where are these watering holes, these places in person and online, where they already have groups of people who are ideal for you to be connecting with. And for me, it’s more doing that strategic analysis to say, let’s say in any given year, where the stage is where I really should be, where are the best podcasts, we’re already this wonderful person has gathered an audience for me. So I just walk in the door to my office like today, show up, sit down, have a conversation, where you and this case Alastair have done the job of cultivating the audience, that’s a way I think strategically, you can begin to have more of a leveraged approach. And then, of course, there’s a lot more detail underneath it that I’m sure you consult with around as well, of ways that you really do have a have to have a much more clear focus and vision, have a special area have specific content that drives SEO, that helps people to find you. I thought it was funny. I just had a conversation yesterday with somebody who’s so cool, who has a number of like specialized dance experiences, like practices that she’s really built and codified as a business. And I was like, How in the world did you find me? And she was like, thanks to Google, because I Googled have what is where can I find an expert in licensing and certification and because I’ve done so much content around that I popped up high in the results. And so those that’s the kind of alignment we want to get is good SEO that’s focused on a specific expertise, and, and niche. And then it’s also really supported by showing up in the places where your ideal clients are already hanging out. But the feeling that to me, I’m always going for is where ideal clients are like, Oh, my God, you’re everywhere. Like you’re just everywhere. And I’m thinking No, I’m not. I’m just very deliberately in the places where I know you ideal client are looking for resources, support and information.

 

Alastair McDermott  12:59

Yeah, you’re in the right place. So okay, so showing up. One, one thing you mentioned there, you said, so much content. And I just want to dig into that a little bit. Because I think that there’s when it comes to creating, creating expertise, the content that demonstrates expertise, expertise based content, there is so first of all, create content is hard. So like what we’re doing now, getting up on camera doing a live, this will be turned into a podcast, it isn’t something that you can do out the gate without any experience of it like you do have to get some reps. And I think the learning curve isn’t incredibly steep. But you do you do have a bit of a learning curve for that. It’s also time consuming to create content. And the type of conversation that we’re having now is on the basis of, you know, years decades of experience in in the particular field. So when I think about creating content, and how much content we need to create and quality, there’s kind of a like a slider. I think that people think there’s a slider with quality on one end and quantity on the other. Just wondering how you think about that, like, how much content do we need to create? And then how, like, where does that quality slider needs to be set?

 

Pamela Slim  14:23

I do agree with you. I think there’s a slider. It’s driven by a number of factors. And so I do agree my history has been really coming up through the blogging world. So I started in 2005 The Escape from Cubicle Nation blog, which was brand new to me, I might I might differ a slight bit in what you said if you really have to know what you’re doing. I had no idea I I did take a class I did a class with Suzanne faltar class called Get know now, which I appreciate so much to this day. I think that was in 2004 that gave me an overview of really understanding more the dynamics of content marketing and blogging at that point. That was really a Big a big thing. So it helped me to get some footing underneath me. But I will say sometimes I wonder like starting way back when when I designed my own blog, and I’m not a graphic designer, I just began to write and share ideas in the best way that I could. Now when I see so many classes and information about how to do things perfectly how to have the perfect podcast and blog, in some cases, I see it actually gets in people’s way, because they feel like they have to master all of these now much more documented skills, where I think there is a natural process as you’re saying, there have to be some fundamentals. When you’re writing for an audience, you have to make sure that you have good grammatically correct writing, you know, all those kinds of things to make sure it’s publishable, same thing to have a decent quality audio. But the main thing I think, once you get that baseline is that it’s the process of identifying really, what is that natural habit that rhythm you can get into, I call them tiny marketing actions, where you can sustain a certain level of production of content that is related to decisions that you make in your business. So for people who are doing it individually, I’ve always done all my own content, I write my own books, 100%. I do all my own podcasts, I write every blog post, every LinkedIn post, all of that is all me, the only way recently that I’ve begun to engage a team is with my own podcast, the widest net, I have a team that does production, and they do a great job at taking the initial episode, creating a blog post from it for the transcript, doing some social assets and things like that. So So there’s one piece of figuring out if you are just an individual, what is the sustainable pace, so you don’t just burn yourself out. Another business decision that you can make is to get some support sometimes from people who can be helping to get key information out. And there, we know from our marketing, friends who study this for a living, we can certainly look at data that says you must publish your you know, at least one newsletter a week, you have to have X number of blog post or X number of podcast episodes. For some folks who are really more in the you know, internet marketing, really dialing in their marketing operations, so that everything is perfectly measurable, which I admire, if that’s the way that you’re really running your business, I can see where you would be looking at some of those pieces. But I have in my experience of working with people found that if you are not really grounding it in what is a realistic production of content on your end, that you can be excited about that can be sustainable. Sooner or later, you’re just going to burn yourself out. And for me, there’s a reason why I’ve written my newsletter for 18 years. I don’t read it every day like you, I read it once a month. But for me, it’s really a sustainable way. I’ve had people who have been on my list all that time. And so I think contextually, and we could dig into maybe a couple of different examples of types of experts and types of markets, it really makes a difference depending upon who is your market, and how what is your business model. Because there can be experts who can have, for example, five key clients during the year, that may be our larger corporate clients that meet all their financial goals in order to be selling to them. And a content strategy for that audience could be extremely different. Or maybe there’s a very specific research project you could do once a year that’s dialed in with those clients where then you might do a webinar, and you might have maybe some updates coming out, you would in no way need the volume of content than when you’re building more of a b2c audience, where it’s all about fighting all the accurate algorithms and needing just to provide tons and tons of daily content in order to meet the numbers. So it’s that famous consulting answer it depends. But I would say that you do need to be choosing what is the vehicle, the marketing vehicle, the content creation vehicle that really is best aligned with the way that you communicate, making sure it matches with also the way that your ideal clients are receiving the information. And then just like you’ve done before we hit record, you were sharing with me some of the things that I love, where you have optimized the process in which you’re creating content, so that when you’re doing it like right now we have live stream, you’re going to break that up as a podcast, you’re making it as the process is optimized as possible, so that you get the most leverage out of content. And I think that’s really a strategy that a lot of people can use. It’s a little different than the old days where we wrote these, like long, long blog posts all the time. And there really was that I don’t even know we made money back in those days. But you can leverage content a different way where you may not need to create as much but you can create small ways to continue to nudge back and extend that content.

 

Alastair McDermott  19:49

Yeah, I find this this whole topic really interesting. The the way that I think about quality when it comes to content creation. I I kind of the it’s, it’s a bit like the dial is is, is kind of swinging in the wind a little bit. Because I think that, like you talked a little bit and I don’t think use this, this words, but this way I think about like a chilling effect on people creating content because the bar is higher. Now, the way that I think about it is, in order to get good at creating content, you probably have to create bad content, and then mediocre content, and then good content, and then great content. And I think that you have to go through that learning curve. So I do encourage people to make the best content that they can make. But I really hate the idea that we’re saying, You should only create great content, because if you if you start with that in mind, there is a chilling effect that stops people even trying, you know, and so so that’s something that I think about a bit that, you know, there is a learning curve. And I think that like one thing you talked about was how you were blogging for years. And you know, you wrote your first book published first book in 2009. I’m sure you were blogging for years before that. And so the writing process that you went through, I’m sure that you went through a big learning curve with that writing as well. Not just learning about writing, but even about your topic, because writing helps us to learn. So I think, you know, I think all that comes into the mix for me when it comes down to talking about quality versus quantity. So that’s, yeah.

 

Pamela Slim  21:28

So it is a good can I just did one quick thing to say about that. Because I think it’s a really important context, as you’re talking about the way that experts are thinking about their body of work, how they’re building it, and what it is that they’re sharing. So in the case where you might have you are a recognized expert in a particular functional area. And then often in our bodies of work that you might take on a new line of exploration for many authors that I work with, it could be a new book in a particular area. And so there’s the process of actually exploring, codified in the idea, testing it out in the world, to the place where you get it in a much more structured way where we could think for example of putting it in the shape of a book that’s a tested model or a method. And that process often work, the way that content can help us get there for a lot of people is where you do explore the the topic on podcasts, or you might be writing like I did with Escape from Cubicle Nation, I always say when I started, I had been a management consultant for 10 years in Silicon Valley. So I certainly met many disgruntled employees who really wanted to leave and start a business. I had done it myself successfully. But it pretty much was the case study of one. So when I started my whole one of the main monitors, I would say, with with clients when I was helping them if they had a question I didn’t know is, it’s a great question. I don’t know, but I’ll find out. And in the pursuit of finding out is where I created so many different connections and connected with experts, where I was sharing along the way what it was that I was learning over a series of years, I did develop a perspective or a point of view, a body of work of working with hundreds and that really 1000s of people through the years to make sure that the advice that I was giving is something that was solid, but some people cannot look at it that way where you think the if I’m an expert, the content that I share has to be this finalized, codified IP, that’s based on the maturity of this particular part of my body of work. And that’s I think, where people can get stuck is you what is engaging to me when we talk about content, like readers don’t care about content, the way that we care about as a business. People want to have interesting thought provoking, helpful pieces of information, you know, ideas from you on a consistent basis. That can be everything from engaging ways that you talk to people on LinkedIn, to interesting curated podcast episodes where you’re bringing in interesting experts to people. So that’s the part I think that can be helpful is depending upon where you are in your thought leader journey. For some people, they’re like, they have it, they have the great book that nobody’s really listening to. So they can take that codified book and create content that might be a little bit more focused and specific. Like, you know, white papers are powerful webinars are really amazing keynotes to get the message out. But there’s a whole other use case for how you actually develop your thought leadership and different depths of your expertise by using content. And to me that makes it so much easier, because then you can just be curious and open and exploring the key ideas. And then you hear back from your audience. What are the different areas that they liked the most?

 

Alastair McDermott  24:40

Yeah, I think that’s why I so I’m running this as an experiment. I started in November, where I started doing the week daily email. And so for me, it’s as a way to explore different ideas and concepts. And also there’s an accelerating effect of, first of all, accelerating thinking Learning. But there is also an accelerating effect in terms of, I noticed that it’s polarizing my email list. So I got a lot of unsubscribes. Very quickly in the first couple of weeks that I did that. But then I started getting more replies to my emails on a more regular, consistent basis. And so I could see that this is there’s an accelerating effect here, both in my thinking, and also when people reaching out to talk to me. So um, when the great things about email is the way that it, it’s, you can go from broadcast to the one on one conversation, Jonathan Stark talks about that a lot. I think that it’s a great way to start conversations with people one to one. So but for me, it’s very much a, this is me learning on the fly, as well. And maybe it’s not learning the concept, but it’s maybe it’s learning how I’m describing the concept, or a different metaphor that I’m using for for for something. So that, you know, that’s, and this is almost like I think journaling, in a way, you know, I think that a great way to start creating content, when you’re not an expert is to just journal what you learned. And that’s a great way to start out. So yeah, those are just just some thoughts. What else is important in the mix here? When we’re talking about creating a body of work? What else is is important there anything that we haven’t? Haven’t kind of dug into yet?

 

Pamela Slim  26:16

Yeah, I think, by default, we’re always creating a body of work. We’re, you know, we’re affecting impacting things, we’re creating stuff. By definition, by the way we are in the world by you know, whatever kind of work we do like that is our body of work. The, the conscious dimension of it is, what actually do you want to create? What is the what is that story that you want to be having that as much more pointed, what are ways that you can be more strongly bringing in your point of view, and having that clear way that people can begin to understand who you are. And so it’s, I think that’s just important to recognize is that by default, if we just sort of go with the flow, we create whatever, for example, we don’t necessarily have a plan, or we don’t have ways that we’re taking control of the narrative at different chapters of our body of work to help our underserved audience understand and integrate the changes. That’s where people can just make their own determination about what your body of work is. So they’re like, you know, yeah, you know, Alastair is a cool cat. But I don’t know, I really know what he does, like I saw him do it. And I’m just using it as a hypothetical example. That, you know, people might say, Well, he did that thing, you know, a few years ago, and then I saw him shifting over and doing something else. And I’m not really clear what’s going on. In your head, you may know exactly what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it and how you’re shifting. But we have to make that process visible to our audience as we create it. And I find by by our nature, and often all the people that I work with, who are really creative and smart and driven, and you know, Impact mission driven, that they need to be creating useful things is really important. And there are a few of them just that really stay within a particular line of expertise within a functional area and just deepen it and deepen it over time. For many others, it does take different chapters. And so not only do you need to be thinking deliberately about what is that work that you’re creating, but how are you building in the practice of making that process visible to your audience, that can include things like just giving them updates and things like your newsletter, but also in updating and creating continually re shaping the narrative on your website that, you know, maybe every couple of years, sometimes we just sort of have it out there. And we don’t really look at it like this, my bio really makes sense anymore, am I am I bringing these threads together in a way that people can understand. And it takes a long time for people to understand the shift. And it takes quite a bit of work for us to be really narrating that arc. And so that’s a piece I find that people don’t often think about, like how are you being deliberate about what are you excited to create? What would be really useful for the market? And I find it just to be vapid, just sort of hollow? If you’re just creating stuff to follow this formula for like, How can I be seen as an expert? Okay, I need to write a white paper, as opposed to really connecting it to what actually is going to be useful to this audience that I care about impacting and supporting. And so you want to be deliberate about what that is, what’s the shape and form of it, that’s the most helpful and then making sure that you are the one responsible for the narrative. You just you can’t often say it enough times. And I find I will do things as a regular practice. For example, when I’m on podcasts of knowing in this case, and I’d love to talk about body of work section their 10 year anniversary because it came out January of 2014 not like The day to day but of the month of it coming out. And I find that there’s it’s so refreshing to be able to bring that back as part of my body of work, the way that I can contextualize and refresh it to what I’m doing now is in my specialized work now of having an agency to build licensing and certification programs with thought leaders, it’s bringing together body of work, what are you creating consciously, with the widest net? What’s a method of bringing it out to the world at scale? And so this is a way I can always be contextualized in conversation with people so that they can see the way that the different threads fit together. And that I think requires sometimes conscious scratching on the back of napkins to say, What’s the best way that I can make that an easy to understand, you know, situation? And then it requires the discipline of deciding on any given year? What is that specific cadence that I have? What is that content I’m creating, through which vehicles like newsletter, podcasts social, and what would give me the highest leverage in terms of the kinds of content that I can create and reliably deliver that reliably deliver? That’s it, that’s the key, like, you just can’t be in a rush and then just do nothing? And then it just requires so much effort and energy to pop up and be visible again.

 

Alastair McDermott  31:18

Yeah, so reliably deliver? I guess, I think you’re you’re probably talking about consistency, right? Actually being consistent.

 

Pamela Slim  31:28

It Yes, it is consistent it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that like now you’re stuck on the schedule where you you know, promise that you’re publishing your newsletter on the first of the month, every month. Like if you publish on the third, I think nothing terrible is gonna happen. It’s that you know, you you generally there is consistency. But it’s also that you are more than just sharing content, you’re actively involved in conversation, right? You’re connected to the world, you’re showing up in deliberate ways. And again, for each business, it’s going to be a little bit different. Sometimes people need to take sabbaticals. Sometimes people will unplug and just do things to attend to their own personal lives, which again, to me is a really deliberate choice. But you want to be engaged in the communities in which you’re showing up. And yes, that’s consistency. But it’s also in that you’re really actively showing up as a human and participating in conversations that are happening around your area of expertise.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:30

Can we get a little bit more specific than about the types of content that you talk to? I mean, I use the word content. Is that a term actually, that you use when you’re talking about body of work? Because it’s content? I know, it’s nice. It’s it’s very generic? Because it’s so generic. It means it’s very broad, but it also has this kind of negative connotation has this kind of blindness to it? How do you think about it?

 

Pamela Slim  32:55

Yeah, I do. I do think about it in terms of content. And so I think in a couple of different ways in from a marketing perspective, I think it’s a perfectly fine way to describe it for within your the marketing function of your business of just, yes, what is that specific content, the ideas that, you know, writing podcast episodes, etc, that’s going to be the most useful and engaging for your audience. When it comes to body of work IP, that to me can be more where usually from an area of expertise, you have a point of view about how it is that you have a method and a model. And often that is a little bit more complex. And sometimes that goes into the monetization at monetization side of businesses, where you might have programs methods that you licensed to other people or you know, certified people in or classes that you teach around a particular area. But that’s where it can be much more than just a piece of content, like a newsletter article, a podcast episode, a blog post, and it really ends up being much more of a thorough piece of content. So it could be an entire method that’s well documented and tested. I am a fan for people, especially within more specific subject matter expertise areas and medicine or health or science, where you can do a very well done white paper, something that’s just not academic, you know, I mean, I’m gonna piss off academics that not all academic papers are boring, but not just something that really comes from the academic context. But something that’s really useful a deep dive into a topic that becomes really useful for people to understand a topic for example, the other piece of content that I think is so useful is research. One of my dear colleagues, Susan buyer, who I write about in chapter three in the widest net is a attitudinal segmentation researcher, and she does research for thought leaders usually on an annual basis of doing specific surveys, really digging into topics the or have the most interest for her clients. Her clients are mainly marketing agencies. And so each year, they have a whole interesting fresh research project that they can talk about, they can really weave as the foundation for a lot of their content. And I find people I don’t know about you, but I find people eat up research, we have a real, you know, joy about that. And that could be highly, highly leveraged content as well.

 

Alastair McDermott  35:25

Yeah, I think one of the most important things that I did when I was niching, down, and changing over from my old brand, which is website, Doctor over to The Recognized Authority. At the time, I knew that I wanted to niche down but I didn’t really know exactly where the niche was. So I surveyed over 1000 consultants, and turn that into a, like a mini small scale research project. And I did that at the urging of my business coach at the time, Philip Morgan, and Phillip was big into small scale research and talks to me a lot about that, actually. And we think we have an episode where we talked about that on the podcast as well. But doing that survey, and then so first of all, I did the survey that has sold through multiple choice, with some with some paragraph based text answers as well, but mostly through multiple choice to make it easy for them to get some quantifiable information. We did that. And then I followed up with I think about 45, telephone interviews, or well, the resume interviews, but that gave me a mountain of data on a mountain of, of content really, that like, I think there’s about three books worth of content in just in in that research data. And, yeah, so like, I think that it’s, it was so useful to do, and it really like it, it connects me with a lot of people. I got so much information from it, I understood the market so much better, I understood lots of very nuanced things about the market that I wanted to, to address like, like, for example, one thing that was important for me was, why are websites not important to this market? Like what why are they not investing in websites? Why is it less important than other things? And then I got into the dependency of the market on referrals and networking and word of mouth, versus other types of marketing, which are more website dependent. And so that kind of uncovered a hole. Give me incredible insights. So yeah, I’m a huge fan of research. And you know, and in fact, I’m gonna have Susan on the show. I was, I was speaking with her last week. I think you introduced me, so thank you.

 

Pamela Slim  37:33

I’m so glad she is a hoot. I think you will love her. Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  37:37

I had a chat with her, I think just before Christmas, or maybe it was just after Christmas. But she Yeah, she’s she’s, she’s fantastic. And, yes, I think that’s gonna be a super conversation as well. Yeah, so Okay, let’s, let’s

 

Pamela Slim  37:52

hear I am now you made me think of one thing. So. So here’s another example, that’s almost taking research to another nother level. My friend Jonathan fields, I don’t know if you know, Jonathan, who rents a good life project podcast, and also spark a type two archetype, he’s created a tool, that’s really an assessment for people to really understand some of their natural workstyle. So part of the business model that Jonathan built in that particular vein, is he had the free spa archetype assessment, which is a, you know, assessment anybody can take, and they, you know, take the questions, and then they’re delivered a base level kind of report that get that tells them like what are their primary archetypes, they of course, can then choose to get more detailed information and application through, you know, a little bit of a lighter dollar, but you know, investment. But he built that whole model that was the starting place where he gathered, I think it was at the point of publication, or doing as his book proposal was around 400,000 responses that he had for people in Spa archetype. Then he got the book deal for Spark two, which is spark does the book about spark a type. Now he has a podcast in partnership with LinkedIn, all about Spark types. Similar thing with Sally Hogshead, who wrote how to fascinate where she has her fascinate profile, Gretchen Rubin, of the four tendencies and Happiness Project, you can see a lot of experts that are building not only one time annual research in a topic, but are creating something like an assessment that give a short term benefit for people. But also, as you can see, can build sometimes hundreds of 1000s of people on their list that make things like getting a book make things like, you know, sharing about what they’re doing so much easier when they’re building an audience that way. So that’s always something that I encourage clients to do where it’s relevant impossible, is to say, could there be this way that you have this ongoing link to your work where anybody new visiting, your website can be jumping in and of course, you get their email, which is handy for you, but they’re also getting something valuable as a result, and it straddles the line between, quote, content and a product.

 

Alastair McDermott  39:59

Yeah, I like that and in fact that I did have something like that on my website. Previously, my biggest issue is I just have too many different pieces of content. Like I don’t want to overwhelm people when they come to my website, because I have so many different tools, and, you know, free guides and all sorts of things. And so what I’m trying to do now, and in fact, if anybody’s listening to this and is interested, if you’ve got a problem in building authority, and that’s related to that, if you send me an email, I’m sure I’ve got something that can be of some help, I’d be happy to share it. But I don’t want to overwhelm people who come to my website, because I could give them so much stuff. So that’s, that’s one issue, I think maybe the listener has a different issue, which is, they don’t know where to start with creating their body of work. What advice would you have for somebody who’s not sure where to start?

 

Pamela Slim  40:51

So I would think first about getting really clear about who your audience is. And some people might know already, because they’re like functional experts, where they’re already working in a field where you know, their clients know them really well. They’re just more people that need to know about what it is that they’re doing. So using a lot of Susan’s method, and the way that they that she describes audience segments is more defining them by problem challenge or aspiration, what what are the specific problems or challenges that your audience is trying to solve? So in that way, when you think of maybe, you know, the, there’s somebody who has great expertise, and they just want to get more visible. And so that could be a scientist, it could be a medical doctor, it could be a psychologist, you know, many people in different functional areas could fit in that definition. But at first, you’re really just trying to get clear and connected with who is it that you really want to be reaching with this information? And then also doing that analysis, which I do like you always a lot in engagement with people in the day to day work that you’re doing, you probably already know, and you can pay attention to where are those areas where people get stuck? What are those general questions that everybody has a challenging time with. And that’s where you can begin to create more of the architecture of what would be the kinds of information and content that you could create. And I think about it and having a couple initial starting places that are important just to activate in the internet marketing world we call the Product Funnel, just ways in which you can be connecting with people and communicating over time, where there’s something that you could share, that is more you know, lead magnet is often the vernacular, people use something for an email trade, that is just really useful. And for a lot of people, it is just an immediate application, you know, how do you get 1000 people on your mailing list or, you know, the QuickStart Guide to Becoming an authority, you know, something that could even be like a short two page PDF, but something that immediately people are like, yes, I want that how to how to not lose your shirt in running Facebook ads, those kinds of things that where people are just like, Yes, I don’t just want general content and information, I want something specific. So if you can think about something for an email, trade is often a foundational piece of content to be bringing people into your list. The second thing that I think of is what some folks call Keystone, or Cornerstone content, I tend to think of maybe four posts a year for longer form. Usually blog posts, I think it’s helpful for SEO to have things that are published on your website. But those could be deeper dives into areas that you know, are related to explaining your, your body of work for what it is that you’re creating. So you might want to have a much deeper dive, as I mentioned earlier on, you know, a couple of years ago wrote that, like, what is licensing and certification, because I knew I wanted to really go through and explain things, because they were just super common questions that people had. And over time, that’s been a really a cornerstone piece of content that people need. So during the year could be for you, it could be once a quarter that you’re really taking time more to be investing in a deeper piece of content. So that’s another piece I think to be getting clear about. And then the the the third piece is what is your choice and the widest net I call it of your beacon. So a primary communication vehicle that you’re using to be sharing your thought leadership and expertise where you’re beginning. That is where I really encourage people to be focusing on one so whether it’s really dialing into your newsletter, you looking at somebody like James clear from atomic habits, has now you know over a million subscribers clearly he has gone all in extremely deliberately to really put the focus on creating that newsletter as his primary Beacon, the place that you’re you’re driving people, for other people a podcast is really the primary beacon that they can use where they can have that consistent publication. For those like you and I have been around for a long time. I do have a long term newsletter for 18 years I actually had had an Escape from Cubicle nation podcast for about maybe seven years or so. And now with the widest net, that is something that is my, you know, forward next five to 10 years where I publish on a bimonthly basis. So two episodes a month. And that’s the way that I have the commitment that I know that I’m moving forward, I actually also created smart IP, which is a weekly LinkedIn newsletter. And that’s been an experiment that for me, I’ve waited a long time to make sure that I can sustain that level of activity. But I think we’re very similar in that where I know I have that commitment to essentially in the form of LinkedIn newsletters, create something that is a little bit maybe a longer, more detailed way that I would just generally do a post and an update can feel sustainable. So you can see people generally who are more established who are well in that pattern of this like dependable, reliable, consistent content publication that open up more channels. To start, I recommend that you zero in on one primary beacon and make that choice. And then that’s the way with your email trade, often internal to your your newsletter and your email where you might have a little bit of a nurture sequence, you know, you can orient people to you help, you know, help them with some giveaways that can be helpful. But to keep it simple is just where you can then look at a given month and say, Okay, what am I actually producing maybe, you know, one blog post a month, and I’ll do a weekly newsletter, I’ll do a bi weekly newsletter. And then that’s the part that you just want to get out consistently at least six months to really get rolling. And notice how it happens before you might consider adding another channel. It depends on resource. If you’re well resource, which is great, you can be bringing in other experts to help activate some of these other channels. But I just found for people who are newer to the process, like you said, there’s so many things to learn even technically, about doing a good job in any one of those marketing vehicles, that you don’t want to overload yourself with too many at the same time.

 

Alastair McDermott  47:01

Yeah, I, I strongly encourage everybody start simple, and then layer complexity on top of that. And that’s, you know, that’s how I started this. And like we’re recording, I think episode 156 of this podcast. So this This ain’t my first rodeo when it comes to, you know, any of the editing or the setup or anything. But if you go back and listen to my first episodes, the sound quality isn’t as good. I’m more nervous. The questions are don’t flow as well. You know, all of that. And that’s just normal that like, that’s part of the learning curve. But I certainly didn’t record life. And even my very first episodes I didn’t do on video, I just did audio only. As I got a bit more comfortable. I started recording video, but I didn’t publish the video because of the editing issues. And then when I got to Episode 100, I decided to go live. And that was to stop me procrastinating about doing video because once it’s live, it’s live. So that was kind of a hack to force a forcing function to stop myself procrastinating. So, yeah, I think that you can, you know, so yeah, I would say, like you said, start out more simple. And you can add that complexity later, as you learned. This has been super interesting. Thank you so much. We’re going to start a wrap up, I do have a few questions, you know, that I mentioned in the pre show that I typically ask one of those is what is the number one tip that you would give to somebody who wants to build their authority.

 

Pamela Slim  48:32

The number one tip I would say is take some time away to really do some deeper reflection about the idea, the topic from within your own body of work to date, that really gives you some juice and excitement, the things that maybe people are really curious about the areas where you know, you really have strength, and you have a unique point of view. Because as we’ve been talking about throughout this whole show, there will be the experience of testing, trying kind of thinking about different ideas, and seeing what it is that sticks. But a core principle to always think about where we are driving is to have some area of specialty, it can feel like oh, I don’t want to leave anybody out, I have all these things that I could talk about. Part of the practice we want to start to, to look at is ways to be exploring a particular vein in a deep way. So that it will allow you to actually build your body of work, your thought leadership, this body of knowledge and like real assets, escaped from Cubicle Nation, actually, when I started the chapter in my that chapter of my business after being a management consultant. Initially, I said, I will work with people in general with their career issues. I will work with people who want to leave corporate to start a business. And I also will do consulting for larger organizations because I had done that before. As I went through time I was like that’s a whole bunch of stuff to be talking about. So zeroed in on that particular stage of transition of people leaving corporate to start a business. And it allowed me to really go deep in that area, and then certainly shine in, from a branding perspective, have kind of a zippy way that people connected with that material. Doing that in publishing is what led my publisher, Penguin Random House portfolio to reach out to me because they had seen my body of work, you know, in that area. So probably, it’s paradoxical advice, in that, have fun, explore. And don’t be afraid to really zero in it first, on a specific area where you have some expertise and let that roll.

 

Alastair McDermott  50:40

Yeah, and the way that I think about that is, you can’t become a recognized authority in your field if you don’t choose a field. So you actually do have to choose something to to to, but you can also when you’re starting it, it doesn’t have to be the be all and end all. You know, think of it as a beach ad or a test campaign, and test it out. And if you don’t like if you don’t like the shoes, you can bring them back and get a new pair. You can try something else, you know if it doesn’t feel right, but I think that’s that’s important. Can you tell us about a business mistake or failure that you experienced and what you learned from it?

 

Pamela Slim  51:14

There have been many, many, many over the years, I think one of the things that I actually wrote about it in Escape from Cubicle Nation at the time that I was writing that book, my husband had a construction business here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, which was like 2006 2007, and people might have remembered what happened in the real estate market construction. So I had been, I think, so zeroed in and focus just on my own body of work, we had been making certain financial decisions in support of his business, he was really successful, had great clients and everything. The market, it felt like from one day to the next completely collapsed. So he just it was really in a tailspin. And we had just made serious investments in heavy equipment, which in a view and know that business are extremely large ticket items. So one of the lessons I learned there is I was sort of in my own world of just, that’s my business. And you know, my husband’s off doing his thing, and not really paying closer attention, I think to what was happening in the financial trends before we were making investments, you know, you can’t always know like, I feel like we’ll judge ourselves as brilliant business people, if it turns out, it happens to turn out right because of market conditions. And if it turns out wrong, we can blame ourselves, you know, all for it. But since that time, I’ve been much more deliberate about how it is that I make take risk and make financial considerations overall for the family, but also overall in my business, so that I’m not getting myself to a place where I have this huge responsibility for a gigantic team. And I’m just at the whim of huge market shifts, which will always continue to happen.

 

Alastair McDermott  52:55

Yeah, that’s that’s a good one. I started my business in early 2007. So I know all about that one as well. I thought it was a great time to start. Okay, is there a business book or resource that’s been important for you or that you would recommend?

 

Pamela Slim  53:11

I always recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott for people who are it is a book about writing. But I do feel like it’s also a book of the essence of the creative process. And Lamont is hysterical, she tells the greatest stories, I actually just recommended it to my 16 year old daughter, and she has loved it because we were going through homework with her and we were talking about sometimes blocks she can have to writing. And that book is so helpful. When I wrote escape. I literally carried with it carried it with me everywhere I went at that point, I worked from home. And so I was like anywhere I’d go in the house when I’d have the like five times a day moments of panic that I could never finish the book and it would be terrible. I would just open to a random page, and she would have some very comforting story about Yes, writing is awful and it feels terrible. But what you’re going through is completely natural. So I highly recommend that for people. Another book that happens to be about writing was recommended to me by Guy Kawasaki is if you want to write with by Brenda EULA, and it’s a book that was written in 1938. The subtitle is a book about art, independence and spirit. And it’s just one of the most wonderful love letters to creation and helpful tools for really getting underneath activating your practice of creating.

 

Alastair McDermott  54:34

I’m gonna ask you a meta question. Are you writing a new book now that you’ve just published your third book? Or do you have your next book in the works?

 

Pamela Slim  54:44

I’m getting I am playing around with with what the premises I tend to work in five to seven year cycles with new books. And so I do know what it is I think of the nature I’ve just was talking about it with my friend this week. I think I know the nature of what it’s Gonna be, but I am not actively writing it right now, because this year is all about deliberate focus in building the licensing side of the house. And I can get very I love to write, so I could actually get distracted with it with a product that I’m really not ready to do. But I’m going to start, I’m already starting to document notes and so forth.

 

Alastair McDermott  55:18

And then just as a follow on to that, how important has writing and publishing books been for your business?

 

Pamela Slim  55:26

Massively important, massively important it is, I think one of the best ways for people who have an important story to share and who will go through the process of writing, there is nothing I have found that is better for just getting your work out in the world to people in a way that would be I think, impossible, with other means, you know, just take so much more work. One of my friends, Andy Kwok, who lives in Paris, originally from Taiwan found Escape from Cubicle Nation in a garbage can in Paris. That’s the way that he initially found me in my work, which is one of my favorite stories. But like, that is a way I just talked with a prospective client the other day, and he had been recommended to my services to him by two of my current clients that he had talked to independently that recommended me. And then he said, as I was getting ready for our connection call, I realized he’d been in the military a really long time. And he said, I forgot, like, maybe you did that, that you had written body of work, he goes, I realize you are the author of body of work. And I read that book, right when I was leaving the military, when my it’s like, head was spinning, and I was trying to make sense of my life. And he said, that made such a big difference. So it’s like, who knew there’d be no idea that he would have been running across that information in the form of a book, I encourage those who are writing a book to try to make it I know Ryan Holiday talks a lot about like the perennial best seller, try to avoid just like aI this year, where you know that probably that content is going to be relevant. That’s like that’s a good blog post. But try to write a book that can have some legacy and endurance because it can continue to do the work for you, of first being relentlessly helpful to people and just helping them solve problems. But also it can be something that can just continue to market for you as the years go on.

 

Alastair McDermott  57:11

Super, thank you for answering that. I know we’re running a bit over the top of the hour so apologies. The last question I have is just just I like to get a bit of flavor. Do you read fiction books? Is there anything that you love and recommend? When I was little I was

 

Pamela Slim  57:25

all about fiction books. I loved all the Narnia Chronicles and anything that was like adventure and all of that I have completely really fallen off besides the occasional beach read like rom com trashy novel which is which I’d love just for escapism. Before the we recorded you were saying it could also be maybe like a you know, a show. I think it’s more my call back to your homeland, my Irish and Scottish and English roots of my family. I can’t get enough of any like, Sense and Sensibility. You know, outlander any kind of show that’s taking place in my ancestral homeland. I will just dig in really deep. I’ve actually done a couple of trips now to Scotland, which is where my family heritage is. And that is the thing right now that’s really calling me from a non like, nonfiction book business world.

 

Alastair McDermott  58:17

Yeah, I think the escapism stuff is important. Like for me, the escapism stuff is usually science fiction fantasy, but it’s it’s just as trashy as the rom com stuff, I’m sure. Exactly. Okay, well, Pamela, where can people find out more if they’re interested in learning more about the certification and all of the other great stuff that you have? Yeah, so

 

Pamela Slim  58:38

you can find me at Pamela slim.com that I’m sure will will link in the show notes. Also, I LinkedIn as the primary social media channel where I’m very active. And so you can reach out just let me know that you heard about me on this show. And as I said, I just started my weekly notes newsletter called Smart IP, where you can subscribe there, once we connect, where I’ll be just sharing a lot more of the detailed information about creating more of this scalable IP.

 

Alastair McDermott  59:07

Yeah, and I think that it’s a really important topic as well. Licensing and scaling and certification are they’re probably the probably on the the map for me and in probably another 12 to 18 months, I would say, maybe a little bit earlier if I if I get my act together this year. That’s

 

Pamela Slim  59:27

right. Well, you know who to hit up when once you get to that point. I appreciate it.

 

Alastair McDermott  59:31

I certainly do. Pamela, thank you so much for being on the show. Thanks

 

Pamela Slim  59:35

for having me.

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