Write opinion pieces. Take every opportunity to contribute articles in your industry magazines, in blogs and on LinkedIn. I recently wrote a piece about the power of storytelling using as an example a very clever video produced by a German advertising agency. It was about the retirement of the CEO of Mercedes. The post received approaching 8,000 views and as a result was asked to work with an individual who would be presenting to industry leaders.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dexter Moscow. Dexter’s passion and motivation is working with people within major organisations and owner run businesses helping them to realise their full potential by maximising their presentation and influencing skills so they stand out from the competition. To enhance their activities when speech making, networking, in interviews and where they need to impress their peers, colleagues, clients or customers. To develop their leadership, persuasion and communication skills to achieve the results needed to grow their businesses, advance their careers or reputation. Presenting in front of the camera and selling £millions or products for technology and other companies whilst at QVC the Shopping Channel informs his unique approach to coaching others how to be perceived as experts and an authority in their field of activity.
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?
My Father dying at 45 when I was only 10 left us financially impoverished and my family did not have the resources to send me to university. I left school at 16 and due to ill health had very few qualifications. I started my working life at an advertising agency as a messenger.
I was then head hunted to work for an agency in Sloane Street London with Mafia connections. It was one of the first American advertising agencies to come to the UK.
This is where my love of words was developed and working alongside some amazing copywriters such as Alan Parker, later to become an Oscar winning film producer, led me to understand the power of persuasion and a well-crafted compelling message.
When cigarette advertising was banned in the media I was made redundant the agency losing millions of pounds in billing,
I then started a career as an estate agent teaching negotiators how to sell themselves first. Ultimately I sold my practice and acted as a consultant to Sainsbury’s buying up a street of houses and shop forecourts for a superstore. Here I learnt the skill of negotiating in a hostile environment.
Through a friend I was then invited to sell his products on QVC the Shopping Channel and recognising my training abilities ultimately was sent to the US by them, brought back their training model and adapted it to ensure it was more user friendly for a UK audience.
Fran and I have just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, have identical twin sons, 4 grandchildren, who we adore and we live in the North London enclave of Hendon.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
My roles have ranged from Sales Director to Equity Partner; Head of Training to Business Owner these have taught me valuable lessons on life and career and how, through these experiences, I can help others to excel, to be heard and to be highly regarded.
My book, Stand Up and Sell — How to Sell Yourself Without Selling, is a distillation of my life in corporate and other sectors focusing on coaching people how to inspire and motivate others to take the action they desire them to take. Not academic theory but ‘real world’ case studies drawn from my hands on experience.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
“Mr Moscow, you are unprofessional.” Mr Khan announced in a raised angry voice, down the phone.
The hackles on the back of my neck stood up. I pride myself on my professionalism and this was a slight I was not prepared to take.
I responded aggressively, “What do you mean unprofessional? I did exactly as you wanted me to. I delivered a pile of estate agents details so that you could research what was available on the market in your area.”
“That may be so Mr Moscow, but when I went around to see the agents they did not know anything about me.” Mr Khan was still irate.
With the same level of irritation in my voice I said, “Mr Khan that was not the deal. All I said I would do was to research the property in your vicinity and leave the details on your door step. In fact, you would not even let me in your house. You made it very clear that you were never going to move.”
Adding, still irritated, “All I have ever wanted to do was come and see you.” After a short silence Mr Khan said “I’m available on Tuesday.”
“That’s not convenient,” I said, “I’ll be with you Thursday at 6:30 in the evening.”
Mr Khan’s house was one of the last houses in a street of houses that I had to purchase on behalf of Sainsbury’s for a new store. We needed to use part of the rear gardens to improve the footprint of the store.
Thursday arrived and I sat outside Mr Khan’s house wondering how I could persuade this man to sell his house. Even at the inflated market price Sainsbury’s were prepared to pay, he was still not interested in moving.
A word then suddenly came to me; histories.
I stepped up to the front door and rang the bell. Mr Khan opened the door and with a belligerent look on his face looked me up and down. I was ushered into the front room.
“Mr Khan before we sit down, tell me your history.”
He proceeded to tell me that he had lived in Iraq and when there had been a change of government the situation for him, as a professor, had become untenable and he had to leave. He moved to Iran.
Further upheaval ensued when the Shah of Iran was deposed and Mr Khan had to move on again. That’s when he came to England.
I stopped him there. “Mr Khan, I apologies. You have been dispossessed twice in your life and I am seeking to do it a third time. We will find a way to build the store without disturbing you.”
His demeanor changed immediately. He brought out a bottle of whisky, placed it in front of us and we drank half a bottle together (although I don’t drink spirits).
Ultimately, we did the deal and he got one of the highest pay outs in the street. He even asked me to carry out a survey on the house he was buying, although I am not a surveyor. He trusted me enough to want my input.
The life lesson I learnt very early on was, if you want to do business with somebody, first understand their history.
This tenet forms the basis of my coaching. When working with individuals who we need to influence and persuade at the highest levels, ‘try honestly to see things from the other person point of view’.
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?
One of the greatest mistakes I ever made was when delivering a keynote speech at an important symposium for business leaders.
I was talking about the misconception of a Unique Selling Point and that there was really no such thing as a company’s USP. The only unique element is us as individuals.
A hand was raised at the back of the room and acknowledging the person I asked him for his contribution to the discussion. He responded,” I have a USP, our company analyses Moon rock”.
You could have heard a pin drop and all eyes were on me to come up with a relevant response. Agonizing seconds passed. “Thank you, (in an ironic tone) you have just tripped me up with one of my own golden rules and I didn’t follow it. Never assume, assumption can kill the deal and the conversation’.
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 than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?
A typical leader is someone that inspires others in their particular sector. An influencer is a person that excites others through their passion.
The ‘Though Leader’ challenges others to question the norm they are lateral thinkers and their key attribute is to think outside the box and by so doing offer a unique perspective on a topic, situation or experience.They are driven, have risen, failed and risen again.
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?
The majority of business leaders focus on how to increase profits, gain new customers or clients and develop products or services that persuade others to choose them above their competitors. It’s about pulling and pushing to gain these advantages.
A ‘Thought Leader’ is like a magnet drawing others to them. Taking center stage whether literally or figuratively takes time and energy yet the rewards can be surprising. Out of the blue people contact us and say, “I heard/read/saw what you said about…..and feel you can help us”.
Thought Leaders stand out from the crowd and although some may disagree with their views they cannot be ignored.
One of my favorite quotes that for me epitomizes a thought leader is by George Bernard Shaw,
“You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
Oft repeated and attributed to JFK.
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?
I worked with the CEO of TIGA the trade organisation for the gaming industry to develop compelling reason why tax breaks should be given to his members. He lobbied MP’s and was successful in bringing this detrimental financial anomaly to the attention of those in the corridors of power. The European Commission has just extended the availability of tax relief for UK games firms to 2023. Leadership at its best.
Go to guy.
Integrating accounting systems into a company can lead to very costly mistakes. One executive I worked with had successfully overcome the difficulties of introducing a new reporting and accounting system into his organisation. He was invited by the company to present at a high level conference and the presentation was roundly acclaimed which resulted in a consultancy with another organisation and he became the go to guy.
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.
- Take center stage. I would say this having written a book on presenting but the fact is that this is the best way to get your opinions out there to a larger audience. I worked with a barrister who gained briefs and a reputation as an authority on working with Expert Witnesses.
- Write opinion pieces. Take every opportunity to contribute articles in your industry magazines, in blogs and on LinkedIn. I recently wrote a piece about the power of storytelling using as an example a very clever video produced by a German advertising agency. It was about the retirement of the CEO of Mercedes. The post received approaching 8,000 views and as a result was asked to work with an individual who would be presenting to industry leaders.
- Get interviewed on radio, TV or in the press. Look for opportunities to address the burning issues of the day where you have a particular viewpoint even if it is controversial. Media outlets are continually looking for well thought out content and opinion pieces. I introduced a client to Business Connections Live an independent TV station producing content for business leaders. He received a number of enquiries from people intrigued about his methodology.
- Develop a video blog. The best promoter of your views is you. Taking to video is now considered the best way of getting to a larger audience by using social media to distribute it. When creating your video ensure that the text is running along the bottom. People often look at videos with the sound off. Perceived wisdom is that videos should be no longer than 2–4 minutes.
- Don’t tell people what you do tell them what you have done for others. The most compelling content of any presentation, interview, blog or video is to tell the story of what you have achieved for others. When you can quantify the result and impact of your interventions your value is increased and your views accepted. A story that is encapsulated to 2 minutes is most effective. My solicitor, lawyer and IFA clients are most in need of these stories to change perceptions of who and what they are. People buy people first not their firms.
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that 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.
His seminal work first published in 1936, ‘How to win friends and influence people’, and the 30 human relationship principles that form the basis of his philosophy and the subsequent courses developed, to this day is still considered to be the best self-improvement guide there is.
It has shaped minds and attitudes to leadership and communication for decades. Most notable Warren Buffet, Johnny Cash, Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Rex David “Dave” Thomas CEO of Wendy’s.
For me the lessons to learn from his approach is storytelling, trying honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view and appealing to the others nobler motives.
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
I agree and feel that it is overused and often is wrongly attributed those offering an opinion. Thought leadership is not about appealing to baser ideals and expressing a point of view that could be divisive and based on a false premise. Perhaps Opinion Shaping or Innovative Thinking could be a better description?
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
- Build a team around you that share your values and ethos.
- Delegate don’t micro manage.
- Remember your successes not your failures and recognize the achievement of others.
- Develop a culture of bringing you solutions not problems.
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. 🙂
There is a TV series ‘Who do you think you are’, where celebrities discover who their antecedents are. Their family revelations sometimes good and sometimes bad always elicits comments like, ‘Now I know who I am and where I come from I feel a part of something bigger’.
My movement would be — Know who you really are! Stripping away the masks we wear and the veil of pretense we live by enables us to be authentic, respect others and embrace ours and others heritage.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Maya Angelou “People may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.
I work with and present to people from many backgrounds and my goal is to work with them to feel valued, worthy and to offer skills to enhance their lives. This is the tenet that is at my core.
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 a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.