Consistency is key. Post, email, share anything related to this topic so people get to know you for this one thing. You want your name to be the name that comes to mind when they think of the problem. You need to be the Kleenex version of your personal brand and area of expertise.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily K Thomas.
Emily is an entrepreneur and leader in the coaching and consciousness industry. She’s dedicated to women’s empowerment and has supported thousands of people internationally transform themselves and live more fulfilling lives. She leads professional mastermind groups, soul-centered online courses, and hosts the Live Your Light Show, a podcast encouraging individuals to take action towards creating their legacy & life that lights them up!
What makes her different? Emily walks the walk! She was a highly successful corporate warrior who courageously took the leap into the unknown and is now the creator of her 2 soul-aligned 6-figure businesses.
She is living proof that you can make a significant impact AND make money doing what you love.
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?
As a former school teacher, it’s in my DNA to want to help people understand, feel valued, and heard. This way of thinking eventually led me to a very successful and lucrative career in the medical equipment industry. In 2017 most would say that Emily has it all, but I felt extremely disconnected inside. My parents raised me to be tough and resilient and work hard but as the Universe would have it, there were two events that finally forced me to pay attention to this internal misalignment. Uncharacteristically, I booked a 1-way ticket to Bali by myself with the only plan being that I would empty myself down to the core to learn how to be the best version of me. When most people think of Bali, they think of a luxurious vacation, for me it was nothing of the sort. I stayed in an 8×8 square foot room with nothing. This was by design. I didn’t go to Bali to relax or escape, I went to work and learn about myself which required me to empty myself of all vanities and just BE. I took a number of courses, did energy work, even went on an intense 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat. Through this work, I questioned everything that I had learned, done, believed and wiped the slate clean to start fresh and be who I was meant to be. I became the “watcher’ of my brain started to see patterns as to why I was witnessing undesirable outcomes. I realized the correlation and power we have to manage our minds and redirect our thoughts to inspire new action and therefore create new, more desired outcomes (all part of what I teach today). I knew deep down that I am here to help people believe in themselves, see their unique gifts, and activate their potential. I created a holistic, sustainable swimwear brand to essentially help women of all ages and sizes reconnect back to themselves and also started my personal brand advising entrepreneurs to start and scale their online businesses.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I am someone that will not just teach or speak about things that I’ve read. No, instead I’m a firm believer that in order to be in integrity with what you teach, you have to have lived it and understand it from an emotional perspective. I’ve done, and still do, the work on a continuous basis. I never pretend like I know everything and because of that, people can trust me.
To be a thought leader you must establish credibility in the industry and I have built credibility based on integrity and trust.
I’m very good at creating a safe environment where my clients/ audience feel seen in a way that they’ve never been seen. I’ve been told that I can see straight to their soul. — This is the highest compliment I can receive.
I always encourage rising leaders to be authentic, be true to themselves, and listen to their gut. A lot of people, however, have a hard time understanding what is their truth or have the sensitivity to hear what the gut instinct is sharing with you. This is where I come in, I have a series of techniques that teach them how to uncover their truth & honor it while also using meditation and breathwork to de-numb your intuition.
Cognitive and emotional awareness and the ability to be rooted in your personal truth are all key components of thought leadership, this is what I live by and teach.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There have been many instances since starting this entrepreneurship journey where I’ve had to stop myself and say, ‘Holy Cow, did that really just happen?!’ — The one that sticks out the most is when I was on stage my very first time. I had ALL the nerves and I had over-prepared if that’s even a thing. But once I stepped on stage, the nerves dissipated and it was as if a force greater than me started speaking. I didn’t refer to my notes once and in fact, the message I delivered on Manifestation that night wasn’t even what I had practiced. It was as if I had this deeper knowledge already within me that was waiting for the opportunity to share it with the audience. I had nearly 10 people come up to me that evening afterward saying that they were brought to tears and that my talk really moved them. This was the confirmation I needed to know that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing with my life. From that day forward, before I am asked to speak on stages, I now simply create an outline and trust the process. Surrendering to the knowledge within me which has been such a divine experience through and through.
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?
Oh my goodness. When I was just starting I had ZERO clue how to work an email management system. I signed up for Mailchimp and sent a broadcast email with a photo of a very hot guy titled ‘my future husband’ as a test email to one of my girlfriends. Yes, I sent that to EVERYONE on my email list by accident. How unprofessional, right?
Luckily most people took it well and sent back funny responses laughing. The best part is, is that guy in the photo turned out to be my husband today! Talk about manifestation!
What I learned from this is to definitely understand my email management system and only send things out once they’ve been checked & sometimes double-checked.
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?
In my opinion, a thought leader is someone who is particularly knowledgeable and experts on a specific topic who influences a community, network, industry, or the public because they have the ability to convince you to shift your thinking and behaviors.
A thought leader is someone that makes you think differently that provides valid points of view and that is relatable. A leader on the other hand is someone who is confident in their abilities and perhaps is very knowledgeable but might not necessarily be an expert in one specific area.
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?
When you become a thought leader you have the ability to change lives rapidly because you are influencing their thinking. When we adjust our thinking, we then activate a new emotion, which drives a new behavior/ action, which eventually leads to a new, potentially more desirable outcome. Long story, short, you’re refining their thinking & changing their lives!
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 you can get people to start to think differently about something they’ve been habitually thinking, you’ve scored yourself a client for life. People like to listen to people who have done the work, speak from experience and with conviction.
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.
1. Become laser-focused on one topic
2. Speak to experts in the field, learn from them & what’s working / not working
3. Understand what’s going on in the head of your audience. Speak their language. — For example, if you’re teaching a 3rd grader how to do something, you’re certainly going to speak to them using their level of vocabulary to help them understand and adjust their thinking
4. Practice what you preach & create compelling stories to share your experience to illustrate the concepts
5. Consistency is key. Post, email, share anything related to this topic so people get to know you for this one thing. You want your name to be the name that comes to mind when they think of the problem. You need to be the kleenex version of your personal brand and area of expertise.
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?
Scott Oldford, my mentor. He’s very good at being straightforward and delivering a no-fluff approach to marketing and entrepreneurship. Lessons to learn from him: be authentic to your personal brand and don’t try and copy/ emulate everyone else (BE YOU because everyone else is already taken!!)
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 it is overused, I just think that there are a lot more people talking about it and identifying with it. The more thought leaders in this world, the better, in my eyes. That means that there are going to be people that are dialed in and able to provide massive amounts of value to us all!
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Definitely take time out of your day to meditate. This is what I’ve found works best for me. I unplug from the outside world and plug into my truth which allows me to perform at a higher level and be more energized throughout the day.
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. 🙂
Such a good and powerful question. I would say that if I could teach people how to truly feel their emotions all the way through without avoiding/ repelling/ hiding, we would be so much more aligned and productive. I would start by teaching this in the school systems. I used to be an elementary school teacher and I know how profound this lesson could be for our students.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.- & “You’ll see it when you believe it.” both quotes by Dr. Wayne Dyer
This really encompasses what I teach with mindset work!
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 lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Amy Porterfield, Glennon Doyle, Tony Robbins
How can our readers follow you online?