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Taking a Journalist’s Approach to Thought Leadership with Dan Fogarty

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Episode Summary

Thought leaders are known for challenging conventional thinking and offering new perspectives on complex issues. By establishing themselves as thought leaders, individuals and organizations can gain competitive advantage and build their reputation as trusted authorities in their field.

But to establish thought leadership, you must have a deep understanding of your field and be able to communicate your insights clearly and compellingly without coming off as overtly salesy.

In this episode of Notorious, our host Erin Balsa welcomes Dan Fogarty, a thought leadership ghostwriter for VCs, founders, and executives. Dan gets into thought leadership and ghostwriting and explains his ghostwriting process. Dan and Erin discuss utility, data-driven/investigative and forward-thinking thought leadership, and connecting the dots by NOT niching down.

Guest Profile

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Key Insights

Episode Highlights

Utility Thought Leadership

“Utility thought leadership is from the tradition of service journalism. When I say service journalism, I mean articles about how to live well, stuff in Wirecutter about what cameras to buy, what kinds of culture to consume, stuff to do in your town that weekend, what’s streaming this fall, how to prepare for getting sick, or how to navigate the healthcare system. That’s all in service to the reader, to how to interact with their lives. And so, utility thought leadership — which LinkedIn is increasingly rewarding instead of some of the softer stuff — it’s how to do your job well.”

Data-Driven/Investigative Thought Leadership

“It’s gathering data about a specific industry, asking questions; that’s like firsthand owned data that you have and that you can then share to maybe shed light about attitudes or what’s happening in that industry. It’s really powerful stuff; it’s why journalism exists. It’s to go out there and to get that information and then present it to an audience. I think of frontline missives, publications like Digiday do pretty well, where they’re talking to people that work in ad agencies, and they’re like, ‘What do you think about this? How’s AI going to change this?’ Those are real-world frontline stuff that’s happening right now, and it’s what people are thinking about it.”

Forward-Thinking Thought Leadership

“That’s like, you pick a topic or an aspect of the macro environment and then ground it in your expertise and some data, aka your authority. You comment on it; you say, ‘The environment right now is weird for venture capitalists and founders after SVB. Here’s what I think is going to happen.’ Maybe you work in banking. Maybe you’re taking information from somebody that works in banking or talking to them. You’re combining different subject matter experts to then have a take. Now, that’s different than just coming up with a hot take for the sake of having a hot take. If you truly believe something contrarian that’s provocative, that’s great; you should have the right to say it as long as you back it up.”

NOT Having a Niche Allows You to Connect the Dots

“When I went to Boston Globe Media, lifestyle was my main focus, but we might have something coming in on the breaking news desk, or it could be something very serious. It could be somebody getting hurt, or it could be a guide to things to do in the city of Boston that weekend. So you’re spread out, and what I learned early on was how to research a variety of subjects very quickly, and also the humility that comes with not necessarily being an expert in any one thing; how to ask questions of people who are much smarter than you. And that has served me so much more than having one particular area of expertise. I worked with healthcare companies, I worked with VCs, I worked with founders who create human resources platforms, FinTech companies, and these are things that I’m not coming in innately with a bucket of knowledge on. I understand business; I understand how businesses run. That helps me ask questions that are relevant, but I think it’s mostly just tuning in and being curious, listening for these threads that you haven’t really heard before, but that are really sharply articulated from the subject. And then following that thread and spinning that thread out and helping them maybe see where some parts of it are a little vague or where they need to support that statement more. And then, also, listening for what people are excited to talk about and following those threads because those are going to be the ideas that have passion behind them that are going to be most interesting to other people.”