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5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry, With Jackie Kotei

When I think about someone who’s done a great job as a thought leader, I think about President Barack Obama. He was a senator very early in his career. He didn’t have the experience or the credentials that other senators might’ve had; however, he was able to elevate himself to the position of president. He […]


When I think about someone who’s done a great job as a thought leader, I think about President Barack Obama. He was a senator very early in his career. He didn’t have the experience or the credentials that other senators might’ve had; however, he was able to elevate himself to the position of president. He created a vision that people could get behind. His vision moved people pass his credentials and experience to the number one office in the world. When you look at what he was able to do, a lot of those strategies can work for anybody that wants to create significant momentum. Barack Obama was able to successfully take his slogan “change that we can all believe in” to create any result that he wanted.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie Kotei. Jackie is a Publicity and Media Strategist who helps soul-centered entrepreneurs get covered by major media, be featured globally and inspire the world! After spending more than 10 years working in the media as a TV reporter, producer and spokeswoman, she started her company so that she could have the flexibility to be a great wife and a great mom for her two children. Her goal is to help change the narrative in the media so that more transformational stories get featured!


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?

I’m the woman with the vision. I’m a wife, a mom, an international speaker and an award-winning publicity and media strategist. After spending more than ten years working in the media as an on-air TV reporter, a producer and spokeswoman, I decided to start my own company so that I could have the flexibility to be at home with my two children. When it comes to winning media spots for my clients, I leave no stone unturned… think Oprah meets Olivia Pope. When I’m not running my global empire, coaching or being interviewed by the media, you can find me at a retreat or doing yoga, listening to some neo-soul, enjoying a glass of wine, traveling or out salsa dancing.

I want to bring people out of hiding and help them truly shine in the media and their lives. After losing my younger sister in a tragic fire when we were children, I developed survivor’s guilt that followed me into adulthood and has shaped my life in many ways. Firefighters and paramedics saved me but, because my sister was hiding under the bed, they weren’t able to find her in time. I was just six years old at the time and in the wake of this tragedy, I was thrust into the national spotlight on the TV show, Rescue 911. I always wished I could have done more for my sister. Now, I have a message for the world — don’t die hiding.

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

I’m an authority when it comes to the topic of thought leadership because I’ve spent more than 15 years in the industry, interviewing some of the top politicians and thought leaders. I’ve seen what makes them tick. I’ve seen what they do well and what that they fell short on. As a result of interviewing thousands of people and being interviewed hundreds of times, I’ve developed a process where entrepreneurs can elevate their expertise and be seen as a thought leader. I’m known in the industry for being able to help people nail their message and get featured on TV any time they want.

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

When I was working behind the scenes at ABC’s Washington Bureau (at that point I had been behind the scenes for about three years), I just knew deep down that I had a vision to not just be behind the scenes but in the spotlight. I wanted to be the one that was featured or the one that was telling the stories. There were many days that I just waited for breaking news to happen.

One day, I was sitting at the news desk reading books about positive thinking and manifestation. Out of the blue, my girlfriend called me and said, “Hey, Jackie, a news director, is looking for a news reporter, and he wants to interview you.” For me, it was amazing because at that time to get a job on-air you had to send out resume tapes all across the country to news directors. Here it was that I was getting a call for a position that I hadn’t even applied for. It was in 30 days that I landed my first on-air job! People think you have to dig yourself into the ground to create thought leadership. Many times it’s about having the right connections and ensuring that you have the right mindset.

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?

About ten years ago, I was working on Capitol Hill doing media production working behind the scenes on a camera crew interviewing Senators, House of Representatives, and other important officials day in and day out. I would go to work, and I would meet the “who’s who” of the government. One day, when I was leaving Capitol Hill, as I walked out the door, “who do I see in front of me?” Barack Obama! He was at the curb, and I was at the door looking at him. This was before he was president; however, I knew who he was because his book had come out, I was following him, and I knew he was the first black Senator. I was so excited about going over, but instead of going to talk to him, I turned around and walked the other way. I was afraid of what I was going to say and what was going to happen. In my mind, I rationalized it away and said, “I’ll meet him another day. I have a press pass; I’m here all the time.” And the rest is history. I never met him. I always share with my clients; if I had said “yes” to that opportunity and said hello to him, I might be his press secretary! I might be working and doing things differently today. That’s not to second guess where I am in life; I’m a believer about what I’m up to in life.

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 thought leader is someone who has decided to be an expert in a chosen field or a chosen specialty. Making that decision is being “the best, of the best.” It’s thinking about how you stand out and most importantly thinking about how you serve people. What makes a thought leader different from an ordinary leader is thinking about ways to influence on that topic. Thought leaders are getting into the mindset of the people they want to impact. They’re putting out content and resources. They’re known as the go-to person around that topic. Typically, the best thought leaders are the most generous, and they know that they’ve got an entire community of people that are depending on what they have to say. To grow your thought leadership, you got to be seen and in places speaking about what it is that you do.

The difference between a thought leader and an influencer… I think that there’s a lot of pieces about those two that are the same. A thought leader has the vision to change the world. They have the vision to use their expertise, resources, knowledge, and experiences to create a difference in the world. There’s a different level of responsibility around thought leaders which is to create a movement around something. I believe that if more people can step into their thought leadership, we can create a different narrative than what’s currently in the media.

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?

Most people set out to be to pursue the things that they’re passionate about. One of the benefits of becoming a thought leader is that you get to do that in a way that impacts the most amount of people. It allows you to be able to change people’s lives. Ultimately, I see thought leaders as an answered prayer for the people that most need them. It’s a tremendous amount of power in being able to impact people at that level. Stepping into being a thought leader isn’t about playing small anymore; it’s about going the distance to make the most significant impact possible. That’s a benefit that most people want, but they feel that they can’t rise to that level. If you’re going to make a difference in the world at the level that you dream possible, it makes sense to invest resources and energy. As a result, there is always tangible benefits like more people knowing your name, getting the recognition that you deserve, having more sells and more clients but, ultimately it comes back to the level of impact that you’re able to have.

When I think about the man that saved my life when I was a child, he was one of the first thought leaders that I knew. At a time when there weren’t smoke detectors in every home and paramedics weren’t as crucial as firefighters he looked at me and instead of thinking what everyone else thought (that I was a lost cause) he said no it’s possible, let me keep working on her. That in its essence is what thought leaders do, they pioneer new ways of doing things, and as a result, people’s lives are genuinely saved.

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?

When I decided to become an expert in getting people featured in the media, I did it in a way that’s very different than most PR firms. My process has allowed my business to grow triple the speed of most people that might go the route of getting certified first. In the first two years of my business, I made multiple six figures just as a result of me deciding to put my stake in the ground and become a thought leader in this space. I’ve been allowed to be featured nationally and globally. Because I’m sought after consistently on interviews it enables me to have a study flow of people that I have a lot of influence with which makes it easier for me to land clients and take a risk in my business.

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.

The first strategy is to decide on what you want to be nationally known for, maybe it’s something that you’re not currently doing, or it may be something that you’re transitioning into. I found that just by asking yourself that question, you get out of the small thinking and you start to think about the big picture (what’s the end game). From there, you can reverse engineer what you need to be doing day-to-day to be able to be known at that level.

The second strategy is to think about a problem that you can solve for people. The fastest path to becoming a thought leader is to get good at solving one problem. Often I’m helping people get on tv and solving a problem for people who’ve had a challenge with that. If you can get good at solving that problem, you can quickly become an expert. Typically, thought leaders that create results also create the most traction and momentum.

The third strategy is to elevate your expertise. Position yourself as an expert. You don’t need to wait for permission. You can position yourself by thinking about ways that you can differentiate yourself from others in the market place.

The fourth strategy is to use the media and other platforms to increase your credibility. One of the things that I love about the media is that by being on set with a tv reporter or using media logos, people start to see you differently than others in your field. It doesn’t cost money to do media! It just takes figuring out the right angle that meets the need of the audience that the media outlet has.

The fifth strategy is always seek to serve. Don’t make it about your ego! Give your expertise freely. Many times people think, “I will save my training for later” and I say lead with the best.

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

When I think about someone who’s done a great job as a thought leader, I think about President Barack Obama. He was a senator very early in his career. He didn’t have the experience or the credentials that other senators might’ve had; however, he was able to elevate himself to the position of president. He created a vision that people could get behind. His vision moved people pass his credentials and experience to the number one office in the world. When you look at what he was able to do, a lot of those strategies can work for anybody that wants to create significant momentum. Barack Obama was able to successfully take his slogan “change that we can all believe in” to create any result that he wanted.

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

I don’t think that the word “thought leader” is overused or avoided. We need more thought leaders. We need more people that are willing to raise their hands and say, “I’m a thought leader when it comes to this specific thing”. If we were all owning our expertise and brilliance, we would have more thought leaders, and it would be easier to have solutions for some of the biggest problems in the world.

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

To avoid burnout, you have to factor in self-care. Make self-care just as important as the things that you’re doing from a leadership standpoint. Every Friday I will spend an hour or two for some self-care. I like to schedule it months in advance so that it’s on the calendar and it’s not something that I’m going to cancel. I discovered when I was pregnant with my daughter that I practicing self-care when going to get checkups. To run a successful company, I must have something regularly in my schedule.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to inspire the “Good News Movement.” My company is responsible for taking the “Good News Movement” to prime time TV and flipping the old model of doom-and-gloom news on its head. I’m on a mission to help 10,000 soul-driven entrepreneurs share their stories of positive impact with the world and change the notion that “no news is good news.”

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

My favorite life lesson quote is the quote “well-behaved women never made history,” by Eleanor Roosevelt. All too often, people wait to ask permission, or they wait until they feel like they’re good enough. To create results in life you got not to follow the status quo and color within the lines. You got to be willing to take risks and chart your course, especially when you’re a pioneer or trailblazer.

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 be able to sit at Oprah’s kitchen table and have breakfast or even hang out in the garden with her. It would be a dream come true for me to be in her presence and learn from her.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: @JackieKotei

Instagram: @JackieKotei

Linkedin:@MoreGood Media

Twitter: @JackieKotei

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

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