Trust yourself. You can’t lead others until you lead yourself. Be confident in who you are and what you’re saying. It doesn’t matter who agrees. Sometimes someone disagreeing with you helps cultivate the solution everyone was looking for, and that’s still a win. A lot of people in my career have agreed with me. A lot didn’t. If I didn’t trust myself, the entire company would fail. It’s my belief in what I’m doing that matters.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Hoffman. Alyssa is CEO of Fearlyss Entertainment and manager of rock and roll band Wayland. She reminds you how to fearlyssly manage every aspect of your life through shaking your ass + save your soul. To learn exactly how to do that, visit www.alyssahopehoffman.com
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?
Two years ago I left a ten year relationship, went to a rock concert that night with my mom and was introduced to her favorite band. Less than ten months later, I sold my possessions, moved onto their bus, and now I manage their band.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I think that everyone is a thought leader. You are the leader of your own life and you have your own story. Your experiences make you completely unique and different from everyone else. You are qualified strictly by being you. I have had experience teaching in front of rooms of hundreds of people, traveled the country educating, won awards for being top of my industry in the state, and I was less qualified than everyone there. It was my willingness to use my voice and express my thoughts that created my authority.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I remember showing up to a class that was sold out in a city I had never been. When I was teaching, the state would have everyone in the audience submit feedback forms and I had received 100% positive feedback at the time which was unheard of. I was juggling several jobs and a hefty travel schedule and never prepared for the class. I got on stage with everything riding on my performance, and I was able to do the whole eight hour class completely off the cuff, continuing my perfect record. It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taught to date. I am the queen of being prepared, so this helped solidify the trust in myself to deliver in any circumstance, and trust in the audience that they’re not looking for perfection but connection.
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?
When I first started out I put the city into my GPS but not the state and when following a tour bus while I was still working my Fortune 500 job ended up several hours out of the way more than one time. It reminds me, as always, to slow down and pay attention. Two things that I have to put serious practice into remembering.
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?
I don’t like the word influencer. I don’t want to influence anyone to do anything. I think that it’s almost a form of manipulation. We see that when celebrity endorsements started fading and the influencer marketing trend surged. Suddenly every single fashionista was pitching the exact same outfit. Influencing opinions differs greatly than thought leading. Being a thought leader means that you are using the power of your voice, your story, and your experience to share with others in your space something that will help cultivate interest within them. You’re not telling them what to think, you’re inviting them to think for their own just as you did. By leading the way, you’re showing them it’s possible for them to think differently too. Being a leader is different from a thought leader because not all leaders use their voice the way they could. It’s an opportunity not everyone takes.
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?
Being a thought leader is an initiation into the highest form of leadership you could embody. It’s stepping into true integrity as you are sharing, vulnerably, what you think when it is most likely different from the norm. Investing your energy into this is not only career changing but life changing, because you get to become into such a deep relationship with yourself.
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?
Being a thought leader shows and offers vulnerability. This vulnerability to share and to express authentically will of course creates lucrative business opportunities. You’re showing that you’re not afraid to use your voice, you’re not afraid to think differently, and you’re open to receiving feedback. In leadership, this is the opportunity to offer a safe space for others to be and say who they are as well. Your embodiment becomes their invitation.
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.
To be known as a thought leader in your industry do these five things:
- Use your voice. Don’t find it. Your voice is not something you lost, it’s something you get to use. Speak up. Take up space. You are allowed to give yourself permission. Even if you don’t know if what you say will be received, say it anyway. It’s through these experiences you will learn and grow. For so long I used the “excuse” that I had to “find” my voice. This was just my inner child trying to keep me “safe” which really meant “small.” I had nothing to find. It was mine all along.
- Speak with integrity. Is what you’re saying in alignment with who you really are, or are you people pleasing? Do you find yourself agreeing with everyone you’re in conversation with to make them feel good? This behavior doesn’t create intimacy it actually destroys trust. Be impeccable with your word. For a long time I agreed with everyone around me because it was just easier. Nothing was easy about this because I was creating a false sense of security and cultivating a real lack of intimacy between two people. This felt like their fault but it was mine. It’s so easy to blame others when we’re afraid to be who we really are.
- Ask questions. All of them. Ask everyone you know. Ask the CEO, ask the janitor, ask the customer. Ask everyone. Take all these unique perspectives and experiences and gather as much information as you can to create your informed opinion and potential strategy. I find myself asking strangers in coffee shops their opinion on things I’m working on. Some of my best ideas have not been mine and I have happily given the credit.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. To everyone. To what they’re saying. To what they’re not saying. Don’t take anything for granted or anything as not important. Listening to what people say has been the single best career advice I’ve ever given. My entire company vision, mission, and core values came from complaints that other artists had on my bus when I wasn’t even managing the band.
- Trust yourself. You can’t lead others until you lead yourself. Be confident in who you are and what you’re saying. It doesn’t matter who agrees. Sometimes someone disagreeing with you helps cultivate the solution everyone was looking for, and that’s still a win. A lot of people in my career have agreed with me. A lot didn’t. If I didn’t trust myself, the entire company would fail. It’s my belief in what I’m doing that matters.
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.
I think Stephanie McMahon is a huge thought leader. Stephanie is the CBO of WWE, a billion dollar brand, and what she has done for women, children, and her company is mind blowing. How one woman has accomplished what she has in a lifetime is a goal I strive to reach. She uses her experience and her personal expertise in storytelling, something her company is known for, to offer ideas and implement new offerings that are received with complete appreciation because of her delivery. She is kind, she listens, and she stays true to her core values.
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
I believe everyone has a lot of opinions about everything. We “should” avoid this. We “shouldn’t” use that. I just think we should stop “shoulding” all over each other.
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Burnout is completely avoidable when you become in harmony with who you really are. Learn when your energy is the highest each day, track when it’s the lowest. Schedule meetings when you’re at your most high and always make sure to schedule rest. If you are in relationship with yourself, burnout goes away. It’s when you neglect your relationship, your body communicates with you what’s wrong.
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. 🙂
Love is the only movement or revolution I would ever want to be apart of. Love will change the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite anything is to “listen.” I spell it “lyssten” like Alyssa to remind me to embody listening in everything I do. To other people, to the environment, and to myself. Listening is what love really is.
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. 🙂
Rick Rubin would be my ultimate breakfast companion. Afterwards we would meditate, listen to music, and watch wrestling.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.
Thank you for having me.