“5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry” With Francis Perdue

By becoming a thought leader, you may benefit by creating your own streams of income that are not dependent upon the ups and downs of companies. Benefits could include being asked to lead in everything you do, innovators coming to you for guidance and assistance, creation of initiatives that out live your expected outcome. It […]

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By becoming a thought leader, you may benefit by creating your own streams of income that are not dependent upon the ups and downs of companies. Benefits could include being asked to lead in everything you do, innovators coming to you for guidance and assistance, creation of initiatives that out live your expected outcome. It is worthwhile to invest in yourself in life. Resources lead you to become sought after. Power lies in the access to knowledge and knowledge is key to creating solutions. Placing your energy in trying new technologies, ideas and more can lead to you being sought after because of how you combined your thought process.

As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Francis Perdue. Francis is the Director of Public Relations for Burgerim , Senior Publicist of PS Media Talent and current Chief Communications Director for My Beverages. Ms. Perdue has over 8 years’ experience building brands from NGO’s from The United Nations to Celebrities and Sports players. Now she focuses on creating strategic branding for companies and product lines.

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?

Entertainment was always a draw to me. I was always drawn into radio. I remember being a child in Compton listening to the “Roll Call” and listening for my name to be called for the birthday roll call and John London and The House Party on KJLH102.3 FM. I loved R&b and grew up on “old school” music and a blend of current music. Listening to Phats Domino with my father or James Brown was the norm. When I entered college, I was a classic “over-achiever”, so it was kismet that I landed a gig as an on-air personality. One night my best friend was visiting, and we were listening to Soul on Sundays, the Black Music Day, and decided to call in and have fun picking music. We stayed on the phone with my now long friend Kevin “KC” Morris and he became interested in me as a DJ. We left my dorm room at Pentland Hills and went over this dirt road to the radio station. I got my interview later by the GM and had training with the Music Director and it was history from there. I spent four years on radio while making a lot of friends, community connections and artists colleagues like Bishop Lamont who would lead me to becoming a publicist. They called me the “Hub” of information because I figured things out for people to be connected and solutions to problems.

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

Leadership has been at the forefront of all my success in publicity, entertainment and education. As a former educator how, I lead children allowed me to learn to listen and to give direction. Through my out of the box thinking I have made my way into rooms of influence and I give ideas that catapult companies. “Thought Leadership’ is mostly about identifying the need and finding a creative solution That’s what I do best.

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

In the field of food and beverage I thought that people automatically understood the power of influencer marketing and endorsements of influencers. That turned out to not be true at all. Most brands even large ones do not always understand the thought behind having the right influencers and how much an actual photo can cost and the benefits of having ad copy and usable photos can save your brand money. I took my clients to a charity event where we were invited to have a booth to sale products, and it happened to be at the Hilton’s home.

The Hilton’s were having an event that was for an animal charity. Paris was in attendance and she took a picture and endorsed the products because she was astounded that her mother loved it. We gave away product and decided to donate instead. People loved it. It was a hit. The pictures were not utilized and a collaboration with the charity didn’t go through, yet we have valuable assets.

Teaching brands how to integrate an interactive approach with assets attained is key and it’s up to the publicity manager to convey that message.

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

I can say it is funny now, yet it wasn’t funny at the time. I took on clients who had a show on Afterbuzz named, SiStars and I talent wrangled for them and got John Salley because I was working on a revitalize of Runyon Canyon Project with him and Robert Richard because I was pitching his movie to investors at the time to be interviewed. They also said they wanted photos and video of them within the suite. My photographer took pictures of them and the guests we brought on for them. We were inside of an off-site gifting suite for the MTV Movie Awards. John was running late and asked me to get products for him so he can just come in take pictures and go. Robert brought in like 4 other people and tried to get them gifts at the gifting suite. The mistakes were: I should have not let Robert bring guests. I should have let John get the gifts on his own and I never should have listened to the talent on the show they were not over the gifting suite. The people over the gifting suite went through my stuff while I was assisting with an interview of Robert Richard and took everything back saying that I stole the gifts. They said my photographer could not take photos of the inside of the suite because a major outlet had a contract to get the photos and video first. The girls on the show couldn’t get gifts so they became negative because the guests that I invited received gifts and said I took gifts too and shouldn’t have been taking pictures even through that’s why they hired me and my photographer. It was a total nightmare for me in the moment and after I was very upset. I went to Maria Menunous , who owned After Buzz TV at the time and explained what was going on and how I felt violated that they went through my belongings. I’ve never stole anything in my life so, thank God Eric Wade, my then photographer and friend was with me the whole time. They acted ignorant until John arrived and wouldn’t speak to anyone but me. I told him what happened; he smiled and said, “Never listen to the client.” He dealt with only me. Then Maria and the suite organizer changed their tune and tried to be nice to me. Treatment changed especially from the people in the gifting suite.

So, I went to the booths that were the most understanding about his schedule and skipped the ones who lied on me. Meanwhile, after being interviewed the people apologized yet my feelings were hurt and I learned a valuable lesson, “Never listen to the client about your job, the rules unwritten or written for publicity. Always check with organizers or event publicists for clarification prior to taking directions from the client(s). You’re the expert “

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the 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 “Thought Leader” is an individual who looks at a situation or challenge and creates out of the box solutions that create a gain for the campaign or initiative. A thought leader differs from a typical leader with the way they approach strategy of solutions. A thought leader differs from an influencer because of the focus of the thought leader. Thought leaders look at big picture, long term impact of solutions proposed and then leads others to create other powerful solutions to an issue. An influencer may have those qualities need to lead as well but the one thing missing is the leading of others to create and not simply follow the direction of the influencer.

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?

By becoming a thought leader, you may benefit by creating your own streams of income that are not dependent upon the ups and downs of companies. Benefits could include being asked to lead in everything you do, innovators coming to you for guidance and assistance, creation of initiatives that out live your expected outcome.

It is worthwhile to invest in yourself in life. Resources lead you to become sought after. Power lies in the access to knowledge and knowledge is key to creating solutions. Placing your energy in trying new technologies, ideas and more can lead to you being sought after because of how you combined your thought process.

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?

Business opportunities are created through “thought leadership.” An example of thought leadership would be press partnerships or collaborations with other companies. By have a press partnership with no funds exchanged it keeps focus on the tasks at hand which is to make sure that both parties are advertised properly, and a win-win situation is created. Combining resources with other departments within the company creates teamwork, resources and a wide reach for initiatives.

A business grows when it focuses their efforts on strengths and allows the weaknesses to be covered by an entity whose strength matches the weakness.

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.

Five strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader are:

  • Be willing to go the extra mile in assisting your client. A franchise owner wanted services for public relations. I researched and gave her more options for press partnerships and created reseller options to be able to give the client a discount on OOH (Out of Home) marketing even though it’s not a part of public relations. It helps the client to reach more people which will turn into more money which will afford them the funds to be able to pay my rates.
  • Research solutions for any issue that may arise on a project to gain momentum with the client as a solution maker. A company’s need to market to their ideal customer, and it wasn’t working. I thought about what surrounded the company and saw high rise apartment complexes literally across the street so I implemented a coupon program that could be mailed directly to the complex and draw out customers with direct contact instead of hoping a Facebook ad would get them.
  • Network and gain allies. I worked on a project with influencers for a larger influencer company and there were several openings on an ad campaign for a charity. I reached out to other publicists and simply asked if they had any clients that would like to post for a flat rate for the campaign. Even though it was not a “publicity” function it still was a way to get a percentage of the fee for the publicists. They jumped on it and I created an ally in those publicists for future projects and we all got paid.
  • Make sure you have a network of people you can refer services to so you can secure your team and have the most efficient work balance. By creating a network of people such as a graphic designer, website designer, social media manager and marketer I am able to refer the client to people I trust who will make the turn-around for the job efficient and will guarantee a certain amount of excellence. The referral between all parties keeps business coming in.
  • Have multiple streams of income within an opportunity that you have. Give yourself an opportunity to get referral fees if possible in your industry or offer other services that you can get paid from the company and not from the client so you can have a stream of income you don’t have to work so hard for. For example, becoming a reseller for hosting for a website because you have a dedicated server or reseller for OOH products for marketing.

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.

Morgan DeBaun, founding partner and CEO of Blavity is someone in my opinion has done a fantastic job as a thought leader. Her acquisition of Travel Noire and Shadow and Act were impressive moves to create a conglomerate of entities that support the media collaboration needed to have a narrative for Black creators. Conception of Shadow and Act’s “Rising Awards” for people in entertainment as a holistic approach to include agents, secretaries, lawyers, talent and more was ingenious to me.

Lessons learned from her approach to acquisition is to be brave and don’t worry about the road less traveled; create your own lane. Also, you are never too young to start and don’t let nos stop you at all. Say, Next.

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

He phrases of “Thought Leader” is not overused. I believe that no matter the term used to describe people who lead with out of the box thinking, their experiential approaches and new Outliers who will stand out no matter what. An outlier is a “Thought Leader” and their efforts will always look different. So, to distinguish it from other leadership there must be a name.

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

Thriving is all about balance and keeping a good group of people around you to bounce ideas off who will be honest and not judgmental. Also, thriving comes when you absolutely know your lane and what you do excellently and not so well. Outsourcing what you do not do so well will give you time for the higher-level thinking and time to hone in on your specialty.

Taking time for you is key. Do what you like to do. Do you like to sing karaoke? Discover new restaurants? Go fishing? Golfing? Exercise?

Thriving depending on your likes can involve being simply having it all: friends, family and financial freedom in harmony.

To avoid the “burnout” I would say find your own balance. Balance is created when you absolutely enjoy doing both tasks for your clients as well as tasks for yourself. Work with those who appreciate your time, effort and expertise. Do not be afraid to walk away from what I like to call, “bad seeds.”
No money is worth your sanity, money and reputation. Your team should consist of people who keep you grounded. I have a woman I call my “Fairy God Mother”, Ms. Naimah. She is a metaphysician who guides many executives, creators and people who have a dream. She helps the visualization of one’s dreams, goals, health and more. You can find her on social media Instagram @naimahthewonderfulyou , Facebook @NaimahAli and ask her about joining our 8:30 Monday morning call. Sharing your positives with a group of positive people and what you need agreeance on in assistance from the universe will do wonders for your life and what you seek will start to manifest. Sometimes we must have people see for us, so I turn to my spiritual guides to guide me. One I hold dear is Ms. Zayah. She is a diviner/reader based on afro-diaspora traditions. She helps me to redirect and pray for what I want and work through the disappointments of life. Through divination tools we work together to set intentions through universal energy and spiritual work. She can be contacted on Facebook @Intuitiveenc or Instagram/Twitter @murkkkury.retrorage .

Say yes to projects that catapult you into a different tax bracket or a title you would like to have. Do not stay stagnant for too long. Create habits that involve your highest good such as health and wellness programs. I have a reflexology massage place I go to. I conserve money and buy gift certificates for four (4) 1-hour massages and that is my get away for an hour — two. It helps me release and unplug from the digital world for a moment. I have groups for visualization that I make sure I have a standing appointment every Monday from 8:30- 10:30 am I am not available. It starts my week off right and steers me in the right direction to move forward to take on the interactions of people.

Find your happy place and stay there by creating a balanced approach to your life. 1 hour a day is ideal if not start with 10 minutes of meditation. Self-care is necessary to pour back into yourself as a leader. This allows you to be the best you for your team.

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. 🙂

My movement will be a social justice.

If I would inspire a movement that would invoke change it would be focused on the way things are handled when someone is killed for no reason just because somehow a person was intimidated or threatened by them being Black. This movement would take over where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left off in his push for written law to change so we can be pushed into the “Jim Crow” Era of the unwritten rules being challenged. Legislation in the United States should be created to combat the attack of Civil Rights for people of color.

Melanin filled people not just in the US suffer from things that surpass a “haves and haves not situation.” The alarming rates of Black males being killed by police officers and others who are filled with stereotypes, racism, sexism, bigotry and the list goes on must stop. It really upsets me. There are no “anti-lynching” laws or laws that prevent the crimes that have been so rampant against people of color.

I would create a group of lawyers, lobbyists and other social change impact doers who would focus just on Civil Rights Law. The whole mission would be to create legislation that would impact at the state and federal levels to ensure that there are consequences and preventative measures in place to stop the needless killing of innocent people for doing things like walking from a store, being in their backyard or in their own home just relaxing watching ESPN.

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

“With, Without, Because of, Despite of anyone or thing you will make it” Francis Perdue

This is relevant because it is what I tell myself to keep going in the midst of adversity, tragedy and setbacks.

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. 🙂

I would love to meet Magic Johnson and have a lunch and/or breakfast with him and his wife Cookie. They both epitome what it is to have “Black Love” and what it is to be an ultimate entrepreneur.

I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Magic Johnson because he was able as a leader to pick the brightest people in various fields to nurture in order to create the greatest success in businesses like his franchised Starbucks chain to the point that Starbucks went behind him and offered a lucrative deal to his partner or employee to take him away to work for Starbucks zoning department directly. His employee was behind the expansion of Starbucks into impoverished areas like the Crenshaw District, Ladeara Heights and other hoods like where I grew up in Compton, California. He is a Genius in business and he and his wife are #relationshipgoals in my book. Cookie is a powerhouse in business as well so a double date would fine.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Burgerim Birmingham

@burgerimbirmingham on IG & Facebook



Francis Perdue

IG: @frannubian






PS Media Talent








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

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