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Shannon Roddy: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”

Thought leadership can definitely open doors and create opportunities to help grow a business or provide economic opportunities. The greater your circle of influence, the greater your sphere of opportunity. This can lead to invitations, introductions and opportunities which are all key components of growth. Overall, a thought leader’s aim must be to provide value, […]

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Thought leadership can definitely open doors and create opportunities to help grow a business or provide economic opportunities. The greater your circle of influence, the greater your sphere of opportunity. This can lead to invitations, introductions and opportunities which are all key components of growth. Overall, a thought leader’s aim must be to provide value, without expecting anything in return. It’s important to always place value over financial opportunity since you want to maintain trust with your audience. People are more willing to trust you when they believe that you want more for them than you want from them.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Roddy. Shannon has worked with over 85 brands to set up their Amazon accounts and optimize and launch new products. 7 years of Amazon consulting knowledge has helped launch over 23 #1 New Releases, 4 #1 Best Sellers and 25 Amazon Choice Products. He is the founder of Marketplace Seller Courses.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Shannon! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I’ve always been fascinated with learning and organizing information. Ever since I can remember I was creating things that other people could use and that was always a passion that really drove me. I started off in Entertainment working in Los Angeles in Film and Television after college and did that until I got married. After a few years my wife and I decided to quit our jobs and travel overseas to get a different perspective on life and spent 15 months in East Africa where we volunteered with an NGO. Returning to the States I started doing Web Design which eventually led me into Amazon consulting where I am today.

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

When I started working with brands selling on Amazon seven years ago I realized there were no good resources online that provided everything brands needed to truly understand and leverage the platform while protecting their brand. As a result I made it my mission to create a course that would provide both a high level understanding of Amazon with effective brand strategies as well as specific tactics and tools for executing that strategy. As a result, I spent the past six years delving into every aspect of Amazon that I could and gained most of my expertise from hands-on experience working with brands on the Amazon platform.

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

I got a call from a potential client that was referred to me by two completely different individuals in one day halfway across the country. That was a bit surprising since they didn’t know each other and the references both came from connections I had made several years prior. I think it speaks to the importance of building a solid reputation where people feel comfortable referring you to others.

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 funny things I had to overcome was being in the spotlight. It’s interesting because I’m definitely not shy and I enjoy speaking to large groups of people, but I actually prefer to work behind the scenes (which was why I preferred working on the production side in film instead of in front of the camera). When I first launched Marketplace Seller Courses, I wanted to stay anonymous. In fact, I didn’t even put my name or photo on the website. It became clear that it was an internal obstacle I’d have to overcome if I wanted to speak or earn peoples trust. Eventually I was able to get over it, get some decent head shots and be willing to be the face of my company.

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?

For me, a thought leader embodies a few key elements. First, they don’t necessarily have to be the first at everything. Anyone can break a story, or news update regarding a change that Amazon’s making, that’s not thought leadership. Instead, I think that true thought leadership is about establishing paradigms and principles, helping us think about things in a way that’s helpful and useful in our lives. In some cases, it’s simply about being able to bring clarity, focus and direction in the midst of chaos and information overload. In many ways a thought leader proceeds typical leaders by providing vision of what the future could look like, whereas a leader will actually work to implement that vision. Influencers and thought leaders can have lots of overlap but the key difference is that thought leaders are paving the way whereas an influencer may simply have agreement and trust. It’s certainly possible to be both.

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 though leader has incredible benefits but also requires a lot of work. You’re never finished, and you’re always working to discover new things that can help others. The benefits are obvious, most importantly that people on a large scale are able to develop trust with you which becomes a shortcut for them when it comes to making decisions for their business. As a thought leader you need to constantly be sharing what you’ve learned and making it relevant to help others in your industry. In short, you’re able to gain trust and recognition through authenticity and consistency, which in turn increases your sphere of influence. Ultimately it’s about being able to help shape the culture we live in, and that’s an incredible responsibility.

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?

Thought leadership can definitely open doors and create opportunities to help grow a business or provide economic opportunities. The greater your circle of influence, the greater your sphere of opportunity. This can lead to invitations, introductions and opportunities which are all key components of growth. Overall, a thought leader’s aim must be to provide value, without expecting anything in return. It’s important to always place value over financial opportunity since you want to maintain trust with your audience. People are more willing to trust you when they believe that you want more for them than you want from them.

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.

  1. Have Mentors: Charles Lee, the founder of Ideation, who is a business mentor of mine taught me a lot about thought leadership and much of what I’ve accomplished today came about as a result of conversations we had 4–5 years ago. He urged me to “Be a meaningful specific” instead of a “wandering generality” which challenged me to gain expertise in a single area, in this case Amazon.
  2. Build a Team: Even if you’re the thought leader, it requires a team of people to support and direct you. When I started out, I was doing all of my own graphic design and social media. Now I have a team that handles that for me which frees up my time to focus on learning and creating great content.
  3. Use Social Media: I learned so much about social media from Jun Harada, an expert and thought leader in the social media space. He taught me that consistency of message and consistency of presence is one of the most critical aspects of building trust with your audience especially through social media where they don’t get to necessarily meet you in person.
  4. Deliver Value: Spend time creating your own innovative ideas, concepts and language that you can then share with your audience. Being a thought leader goes beyond simply reiterating what others are saying and requires you to bring something of unique value to the table. The most important things I teach brands are principles and how to think about Amazon as a platform, in addition to the specific tactics they’ll use to increase sales or protect their brand.
  5. Tell Stories: At their core, social media, books, videos and articles are all about storytelling. We’re a story-based culture and people want more than just information, they’re looking to engage with someone who’s authentic that they can build a relationship with and trust. Engaging your audience with stories is really important and vulnerability can play a vital role. Even though I’ve always put out quality information, it wasn’t until I started sharing personal stories that I started to gain followership. You have to give people an opportunity to relate to you in order for them to trust and follow you.

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?

Simon Sinek has a brilliant and highly successful approach to thought leadership. He follows all five of the strategies I mentioned, and he’s an incredible story teller. Simon consistently posts original thoughts and ideas that consistently fall in line with his values as an optimist and someone whose goal is to “inspire others to do what inspires them.” It’s important to not only know what we do, but why we do it and to discover our core strengths and fully leverage them in order to be successful.

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

I think it’s similar to any term that people can apply to themselves (“Guru”, “Expert”, “Ninja”, etc.) For years I avoided referring to myself as an “Amazon Expert”, and just called myself an Amazon Specialist because I felt that it had been overused by individuals teaching hacks to manipulate Amazon and I didn’t want to be lumped in with them. Tyler Jorgenson was the person who helped me recognize that I did have tons of Amazon Expertise and should create a positive experience for sellers by embracing that and providing legitimate strategies for Amazon. It’s important to own who you are and not be embarrassed by others who lack legitimacy or let them keep you from stepping into your sphere of influence.

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

You need to take time off and you need to have weekly rhythms of rest and recreation. Most leaders thrive on adrenaline and work, but that can quickly lead to burnout. Having a balanced scheduled, days where you don’t check your phone, email or pull out your laptop are critical. I discovered that it’s important to give my mind time to rest and not think about work (which is often when I get my best ideas, I just write them down and return to relaxing). Setting good boundaries for yourself to enjoy life, spend time with family and friends is just as important as getting it done when it’s time to work.

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. 🙂

It would be to help create a culture of trust, mutual respect and humility. I think those are three key elements that I strive to maintain in my own life and I’ve seen how companies function when leaders embody these qualities and then cultivate them in the people they hire. It creates unbelievable opportunities for collaboration, innovation and productivity, all things that lead to long-term success.

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

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It’s a pretty simple concept, but it’s one that can change the world if we put it into practice. I’ve had many experiences where people treated me a certain way and they didn’t have to. The experiences where I’ve treated others the way I wanted to be treated has always come back around to bless me.

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. 🙂

Simon Sinek would be pretty incredible. I’ve really been blown away how he established his thought leadership in the realm of business over the past eight years. He’s a fascinating individual with some really amazing ideas and core values that seem to emanate from him in everything he says and does.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The easiest way is on LinkedIn: 
https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-roddy/

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

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