Connecting Your Business and Your Thought Leadership with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 259

Connecting Your Business and Your Thought Leadership with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 259 | Speaking Your Brand

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How is your thought leadership message connected to your business? Should it be related?

I look at it this way: Thought leadership is the personal WHY to the WHAT (vision) and HOW (mission) that you have for your business.

Think of your thought leadership as a parallel track to your business; it’s WHY you do what you do.

I talk about thought leadership because it’s the way to get more of what you want: better speaking engagements, including paid ones, plus the way to reach more people with your message and create change.

In this episode, I talk about:

  • What thought leadership is
  • How thought leadership is different from your marketing and sales message in your business
  • How to connect your thought leadership and your business
  • My own thought leadership message
  • The a-ha moment I had when I gave my keynote talk back in September
  • Examples from some of our clients
  • The biggest challenges I see when working on your thought leadership


About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at



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259-SYB-Connecting-Biz-and-Thought-Leadership.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
How is your thought leadership message connected to your business? Do you even need to have a thought leadership message and platform? This is what I’m talking about on today’s episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast. More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview a coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is Speaking Your Brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience. Hi there, and welcome to the Speaking Your Brand podcast. I’m your host, Carol Cox, and last week’s episode I talked about three trends in public speaking and thought leadership for 2022. I hope your new year is starting off happy, healthy and prosperous and will continue to be so throughout this year. In this episode, I want to talk about connecting your business and your thought leadership. How is your thought leadership message related to your business? There’s a need to be, and why even bother having a thought leadership message and platform? And this is why I talk so much about thought leadership, especially in the past year and a half. You know, when I started Speaking Your Brand as a business back in 2015 and really went full time with it in twenty seventeen early twenty eighteen, I talked a lot about the mechanics of public speaking, how to create presentations, how to use story structure, how to deliver your talks to your audience and engage them.

Carol Cox:
How to craft your message, find your core message, find your core idea. And all of this is still incredibly important for the talks and the presentations that you give, whether they’re in-person or virtual. However, as I’ve discovered over the past year and a half really since 2019 and into 2020, is that thought leadership is the way for you to get more of what you want to get better speaking engagements, including paid speaking engagements, to get on those keynote stages, to get to do a TEDx Talk, to get all of those opportunities that you want to spread your message further to more people and really thought leadership is the way for you to create change. And I know for me that’s incredibly important for the clients that we work with. That’s incredibly important. We see a vision of what we think can be better and we want to help enact that change. And so this is why I want to talk today about connecting your business and your thought leadership. If you’ve been around your business for a while, you’ve probably heard the advice to create your vision and your mission in your business, which I agree is incredibly helpful for you to do. And your vision of mission may change over time and may evolve and iterate as your business changes and really as you change.

Carol Cox:
And here’s how I think about vision, mission and then your thought leadership. The vision is the what it’s what you envision the world could look like and what I mean world. It could be the entire world like the globe, the macro version of the world, or it could be a smaller micro version. So what the world could look like for your clients, for your industry, for your community, for that little corner of the internet or the little corner of the community that you’re in? So the vision is the what it’s like, what is it? What is it that you imagine, like, literally visualize what is it that you see in the future of the world could look like? That’s the what the mission is, the how so how are you going to get to that world? How are you going to help your clients, your audience, the people who follow you, the people that you are around? How can you get to that world? That’s that mission. It’s kind of like the milestones and the steps that you’re going to take your thought leadership. I see as the why it’s the why to the what and the how your thought leadership is the why to your vision and your mission. It’s that personal element is that personal component. That’s about why this particular vision and mission is important to you. Because after all, there are lots of vision and mission statements that you can find for companies all over the world.

Carol Cox:
You can google them and find them on their websites, and the reason that you have a particular vision and mission is related to something that’s personal to you, something that matters to you based on a whole variety of different things. And so that’s why I feel like thought leadership is such an integral part of vision and mission and doesn’t get talked a lot about when we talk about business vision and mission. So in this episode, I’m going to talk about what that leadership is, how thought leadership is different from the marketing message in the sales message that you have in your business, how to align your thought leadership and your business, even though they are slightly different messages. I’ll share with you my own thought leadership examples from some of our clients as well, and the biggest challenges that I see our clients go through when they work on their thought leadership. I’m also going to share with you an aha moment I had when I gave a keynote talk back in September a few months ago about Speaking Your Brand and how Speaking Your Brand has evolved. If you’re a returning listener, thank you so much for joining me again in another new year. And if you’re a new listener, I am so glad that you’re here as Speaking Your Brand. We help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks and develop their thought leadership platforms.

Carol Cox:
Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. If you would like to be a part of what we do, if you would like to create your signature talks to understand your thought leadership message and develop your platform and your visibility strategy and your revenue strategy for 2022, I invite you to apply for our Thought Leader Academy. This is our signature program. We have had dozens of women go through it and they have called it the best coaching experience they’ve ever had. You get weekly group Zoom calls, as well as one on one coaching calls and the option to add a VIP day to create your signature talk. It truly is the best of coaching, accountability, support and training. You can get all the details and you can submit your application by going to Speaking Your Brand academy. Again, that’s Speaking Your Brand academy. Now, let’s get on with the show. When we think about conducting our business and our thought leadership, the first thing that we have to understand is what exactly is thought leadership. And here’s how I define thought leadership. It’s having a specific point of view on your topic, your field, your industry, even society as a whole. So you have a very specific and I would say, unique point of view, unique in the sense that not that no one else in the world is talking about it, but unique in the sense that you really need to shine a light in your field and your industry.

Carol Cox:
On this point of view, your thought leadership is also how you see things could be better. Things can be different. And here’s that third element that is so important is why this matters to you, the personal connection you have to your thought leadership idea to your thought leadership message. I did an entire episode in early twenty twenty one. It was episode two thirteen called The Voice of Thought Leaders, and the word voice is an acronym, of course, because one of the funnest things that we do with our clients and with the women in our Thought Leader Academy is helping them come up with an acronym or an alliteration for their thought leadership message for their framework. So Voice is the acronym that I came up with and voice stands for V is viewpoint. So having that unique viewpoint O is for being open and bold in your communication. I is for that individual story that you universalize. So what’s that individual personal story that connects you to your thought leadership message? See, is having a container for your thought leadership platform and then E! Is for being emotive, real and vulnerable in your content and in your delivery. So that is episode two thirteen, you can go back and check that one out, and here is another example of thought.

Carol Cox:
Leadership and action is back in March of twenty twenty. So almost two years ago now for Women’s History Month, we did a challenge in a podcast episode called Choosing Women’s Voices. It was episode one sixty two, and this was all about making sure that we’re being intentional and mindful about choosing women’s voices. Whether it’s podcast, we listen to audiobooks, we listen to books that were reading reporters that we follow influencers that we follow is making sure that we have a majority a preponderance of women’s voices because it’s so easy to just default to what tends to be male voices. They’re the ones who are at the top of the New York Times bestseller charts, the top of the podcast church. The people that we see in the media most often. So it usually requires some intentionality to make sure that we are having a preponderance of women’s voices. So that was that episode, and that challenge was back in episode one sixty two. So that is thought leadership. Now here’s how this differentiates from your business. In your business, you’re providing something very useful and very specific to your clients or your customers. So you’re making a product that they buy and then they use is very specific. You’re providing a service to your clients that’s very useful and specific. Usually you’re providing a tangible outcome to your clients. So your clients started X, they go through your process, so they go through y like the letter y, they go through with the y y process and they end z.

Carol Cox:
So it’s the x y z. It’s usually a linear process that they go through and there’s a tangible outcome at the other end. So if you’re a web designer web developer, you’re helping your clients get a brand new website. If you’re a copywriter or you’re helping them with a new email sequence or copywriting for their sales page. If you’re a business strategist, you’re helping your clients achieve a certain goal. If you’re a leadership coach, you’re helping your clients get past some obstacles they may be facing to achieve a certain goal. If you’re a scientist, you’re helping your clients to get new products developed or to understand certain things that are going on within that industry within that field. So that’s your business, something very tangible and useful and specific. Now, think of your thought leadership as a parallel track to your business, so you have your business going along one track and you have your marketing. Message in your sales message, your marketing sales message is client, you have a problem here, we have a solution, we can help you. So that’s that kind of problem solution, that product market fit with your marketing and sales message. So that’s your business track and the kind of running parallel to your business track is your thought leadership track. So it’s still related to what you do in your business. Think about that. It’s the why you do what you do.

Carol Cox:
You probably have heard of Simon Sinek and his famous start with why his his TED talk that went viral, I think, is like 12 or 13 years ago now. And so he talked about People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it? Well, think of thought leadership as the same thing you think about there. So many web designers out there, there’s so many copywriters out there. There are so many business strategists, are so many coaches, there’s public speaking coaches, there are sales coaches, there’s business coaches. There are so many different products and services out there. Why do people come to you or why do people choose a specific person to work with is usually because they they have an attraction to that person based on why they do what they do, and this is where your thought leadership comes into play. And so if I think about my own thought leadership, I’m working on a book proposal right now that will eventually turn into a book. And I talked about this a few weeks ago on the podcast episode that I did with my book coach Tiffany Hawke. It was the last episode of Twenty Twenty One called writing a book gives your ideas, depth and longevity. That was the last episode in the series we were doing, called The Medium is the message. So I talked about the book that I’m working on, and my thought leadership is around my premise of my book, which is the act of public speaking itself.

Carol Cox:
So literally the act of public speaking, having access to the public sphere and I would say, even having safe access to the public sphere for public speaking, whether it’s in the media, on stages, in our businesses, on boards and our communities, the act of public speaking is necessary to advance women’s leadership and to advance gender equality. And in my book, I’m going to go through the history of public speaking who was afforded the right and the privilege to speak in public and who was not, and why that was the case and why. If we truly want to get women in more positions of leadership and power and to achieve gender equality, having women be visible and have a voice in the public sphere is necessary for that to happen. So obviously, this idea of public speaking and women’s leadership is very much related to what we do here at Speaking Your Brand. But it’s not a marketing and a sales message. If you go to the sales page for the Thought Leader Academy, it’s not going to say at the top of the page join the Thought Leader Academy to advance gender equality. Now, of course, that’s like what I want. I believe that’s what’s going to happen when we have more women, prominent speakers and we have more women thought leaders. That’s the byproduct. But that’s not my marketing and sales message. My marketing sales message is you have a problem, you have a need.

Carol Cox:
We can help you. You need help clarify your ideas, creating your signature talk, figuring out what the charge to speak. We have the experience, the processes, the frameworks, the coaching, the support, the community to help you to do that. But my bigger message, my bigger. Why is this idea of public speaking to advance women’s leadership and gender equality? So you can see it’s like a parallel track like they have? There’s connections between the business and the thought leadership, but they’re not one in the same thing. I mentioned in the intro that I was going to share with you this aha moment I had when I gave my keynote talk a few months ago and this this aha moment literally happened as I was standing there giving the talk. So I, of course, had prepared the talk in advance I had. I don’t write it out word for word because I’m not going to memorize a thirty minute talk. But you know, I had my outline, my detailed outline. I knew what I was going to talk about, all my cultural references and audience engagement questions and the story that I was telling all of that. And as I was finished up telling the main story of my talk, which was about this professional experience I had about 15 years ago and the backlash that ensued because I was a woman with a public voice and a public presence. The backlash that ensued and how I lost my voice and lost my confidence and lost my purpose for many years after that because of this backlash.

Carol Cox:
And just the kind of the devastation that came from that. And so it literally, as I was saying, the speech, I actually pulled this from the transcript because I took the audio and I ran it through sonics to get the transcript. And here’s what I said. Unbeknownst to me, when I started Speaking Your Brand ten years after this backlash, this professional backlash experience had happened. I thought I was just starting a public speaking company. I wanted to start a new company. I had had technology companies in the past, but I wanted to do something different. People had always told me I was good at public speaking and that they enjoyed my presentation, so I thought, Well, this would be a good company to start. Let me start a public speaking company. And I didn’t realize at the time what I was really doing. What I was doing by starting speaking, your brand was helping women find and use their voice to not feel alone and isolated. When they were going to step up as a public presence, as a public voice, much like I had done, but I didn’t feel like I had the support system and the community to help me at the time. So what I ended up creating very unconsciously now is very much conscious, but at the time it was not.

Carol Cox:
And so I pulled that thread this thread of of women having a public voice and a public presence that had been running throughout my entire life. And unconsciously, I had embedded that into Speaking Your Brand as a business. And now very much it comes out in our mission, our vision and in my own personal thought leadership. Now let me give you some more examples from some of our clients. Jackie Roby, who was on the podcast about a year ago in early Twenty Twenty One. She has an extensive background in the travel industry and doing sales consulting for four travel companies. But now she has very much invested in D-I work, diversity, equity and inclusion work in the travel industry to make them much more diverse, equitable and inclusive and the way that they market and sell their travel packages. And also, Jackie works around the idea that travel can very much lead to healing and wellness, especially for those who may have been impacted by trauma. And Jackie has a very personal story related to this that she shared and are very first brave will beyond live virtual summit back at the end of 2020. So Jackie’s business is around D.I work and sales consulting in the travel industry. But her thought leadership is about the power and the role that travel can have for healing and wellness. So you see that they are related to each other, but they’re not the exact same thing, but they support each other and that is the power of thought leadership.

Carol Cox:
Jackie’s thought leadership has gotten her speaking opportunities, including being flown to Dubai, and that at the end of twenty twenty one to do some speaking engagements there. And that was because of her thought leadership. It’s not because of her marketing message, it’s because of her thought leadership. Here’s another example Eileen Future is going through a Thought Leader Academy right now. Eileen is a scientist, a chemist, and her company does data research and data analysis as far as what trends are in the field to help the biomedical companies that she works with. So that’s her business. And then her very much day to day operations is to do this data analysis and go through all of the different journals and peer reviews studies that are coming out and help her clients make better decisions as far as what products and services they can offer. Eileen is that leadership message is that we need to get more women doctors and scientists funded because the vast majority of those getting funded in the biomedical space are white men. And so the problem with that is that there are so many different perspectives that are being totally missed. There are being overlooked that are being ignored. So that’s Eileen Scott leadership message because it’s connected to her business in the sense that it’s in the same industry. But she’s not going to go to a conference necessarily and talk about her the sales message of her business.

Carol Cox:
She’s going to talk about her thought leadership, which is going to attract more business to her and attract more opportunities to her. Here’s another example our client, Mary Beth Simone. She went through our Thought Leader Academy. She’s now currently in our Catalyst Collective, which is our advanced program for women who’ve gone through our Thought Leader Academy, who have worked with us one on one are eligible to join our Advanced Catalyst Collective. Mary Beth’s business is around contingency planning, so to help business owners create their contingency plans before things go wrong. So can you imagine if something happened and you were sidelined and had to be away from your business for a week, for a two weeks, for a month? What would happen? Would people know what, what your passwords were, what your systems and operations were, and that’s for your business life, much less. Also, the same thing would apply in your personal life as well, so that’s what Mary Beth helps her clients with. Mary Beth thought leadership message is around struggle to strength, so taking things we have struggled with and see how those develop into strengths for ours, for ourselves. So Mary Beth also spoke at our Table Beyond Live Virtual Summit in Twenty Twenty One around this idea. And so her thought leadership message is not directly related to her business, but it’s giving her opportunities and it’s helping her to reach out and to do different speaking engagements and to bring on guests to her own LinkedIn Live shows to talk about these topics.

Carol Cox:
And here’s one final example from one of our clients Jamie Tynan Jamie is a corporate executive with a health care company, and Jamie’s thought leadership message is an initiative that she created called one hundred by 20 30. And the initiative is to get health care organizations to sponsor women of color in health care so that more women of color can rise in the leadership ranks within health care organizations. So Jamie’s work is the day to day work that she does employed by her company. But her thought leadership message is this initiative is this bigger macro. Vision of the world that she has, and she has a book that she’s working on coming out that came from her thought leadership. So why bother having a thought leadership message and platform? Well, hopefully these examples that I gave you inspired you to want to do the same, but I’ll give you the the snapshot here, so you definitely will get more and better speaking in media opportunities when you have a clear and a strong thought leadership message and you have a platform where you’re consistently putting your thought leadership ideas out into the world, your platform can be an ongoing weekly podcast like this one is it could be a pop up podcast, a capsule podcast of just six or eight episodes. It could be a LinkedIn Live show. It could be an event, it could be an initiative.

Carol Cox:
So there’s different containers or platforms that you can do, but that will definitely attract more speaking and media opportunities. That keynote that I mentioned that I did a few months ago that directly came from my thought leadership. Getting opportunities to go on TV will come from your thought leadership. Awards will come from the thought leadership getting opportunities to serve on boards, which gives you more visibility and exposure as well, will come from your thought leadership, TED talks and so on. One of the trainings that we do and the Thought Leader Academy is a workshop on how to pitch your local media, how to pitch your local TV stations, and so many of us think that that TV is not for us or that we have no way of getting on TV. But yes, you absolutely can, and you should. And this is the training that we do in the Thought Leader Academy to help you see how that’s possible. And here’s the thing, though, about getting on TV is that those TV channels are not going to bring you on to talk about your sales and marketing message in your business. They’ll be glad to have you pay for that opportunity to advertise your business. They’re not going to bring you on as an expert or, you know, someone in your industry to talk about that if you’re just going to share a sales message, but they will bring you on to share a thought leadership message, and that’s how you help to position your pitch for TV.

Carol Cox:
So that’s so definitely speaking to me. Opportunities number one, as far as a reason to have a strong and clear thought leadership message. The other thing is that you will attract clients that you love to work with, and we have seen this over and over again and here Speaking Your Brand. I always love to see the clients who come through our next Thought Leader Academy or our next Catalyst Collective because they’re just women that I truly I get inspired by them, and I truly love to see the projects that they’re working on. The leadership also gives your audience a way to participate and to share what you’re doing, which grows your audience. Most people are not going to share your sales message when you post it on social media, however, they will participate and share a thought leadership message. Think about the brave well beyond live virtual summits that we did are choosing women’s voices challenge that we did. If you have an initiative that you’re doing or an event kind of related to that that you’re doing, it gives your audience a way to participate, which will then grow your audience as well. Having a thought leadership message also enables you to develop your ideas in a deeper way. When you iterate and you are thinking about and you’re literally talking about, this goes back to the importance of public speaking and advancing women’s leadership.

Carol Cox:
When you literally are talking out loud your ideas with multiple people, guests on your podcast, when you go to other podcasts to be a guest on when you go speak at events, when you’re part of panel discussions, you’re developing your ideas in a deeper way. They should not occur in a vacuum. You need to literally talk your ideas out loud and have other people be a sounding board and talk back to you about your ideas. The leadership also has a long shelf life. We talked about that in the episode that I did about books. Having a book is a is a deeper way to develop your ideas. It also gives you a longevity and thought leadership gives you a legacy. It’s so much more than again, your sales and marketing message is the legacy that you’re leaving behind the change that you want to see in the world. And for me personally, I know that having a thought leadership message and platform gives me personal fulfillment. It gives me a sense of purpose of waking up every day and being excited about what I’m doing within Speaking Your Brand. Because I see the bigger purpose, the bigger y as far as what I’m doing and what what the entire team is doing here, Speaking Your Brand. Now here are the biggest challenges that I see with myself and with our clients when they’re working on their thought. Leadership is not being sure which ideas are the best ones like it feels messy, it feels uncertain.

Carol Cox:
It feels like it’s just like a bunch of like a, you know, a spaghetti like swirling around, you know, how they say like throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. So yes, you can try to do that. But really, the best way to figure out which ideas are the best ones is to talk them out loud with someone else. This is why we do one on one coaching in our programs because we know having that one on one time is so valuable. This is why I hire my own coaches because I know I need those sounding boards to talk out my ideas, but also then to have the coach say, Well, look, that one sounds really good. I haven’t heard people talk about that one before. Let’s pull on that thread and go deeper on that. The other challenge that. I see, as far as developing thought leadership messaging platform is that it does take time, it takes iteration, it takes time to dig deep to kind of like, have ideas, sit with you, take a shower or go for a walk and then have something pop into your mind that hadn’t popped in your before. So it takes his time and iteration. It’s not instant gratification. It’s going to develop over time. But three months, six months a year, two years goes by faster than we think. Another challenge that I see is self-doubt, and I struggle with this myself.

Carol Cox:
And in fact, this has been on my mind and recently working on this book proposal. So next week’s podcast episode is going to be about self-doubt, normalizing the self-doubt that so many of us feel, and I’m going to share with you things that I do when self-doubt starts to creep in, and maybe these things will be helpful to you as well. If you would like to work together on your thought, leadership message and platform, connecting your thought leadership with your business, creating your signature talks and putting yourself out there in a bigger way in twenty twenty two, I invite you to apply for a Thought Leader Academy. You can get all of the details, including the pricing, and you can apply by going to Speaking Your Brand academy. Again, that’s Speaking Your Brand academy. If you enjoyed this episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend or a colleague. You can text it right through the podcast app that you are listening on. And did you know that Spotify now has ratings and reviews for podcasts? This is brand new. It used to be pretty much only Apple Podcasts that would enable you to lead a rating or review. So if you listen on Apple Podcasts or if you listen on Spotify, especially on Spotify, I would love it if you left a rating and review about the podcast. Until next time. Thanks for listening.

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