social slowdown

A podcast to help you decrease your reliance on social media & find new ways to market your business sustainably. Get new leads & clients … without needing to be constantly attached to your phone.

Thought Leadership and Writing in the Age of AI with Alyssa Burkus

We aren’t going to be able to solve the problems of the world if we’re only listening to a small percentage of the world’s voices

Alyssa Burkus

This week I’m SO excited to share with you my conversation with Alyssa Burkus, cuz we dive deeeeeep into some thought-provoking topics.

Alyssa is a thought leadership strategist, writer, and coach. She’s the founder of Shift Wisdom, a writing agency based near Toronto, Canada where she specializes in helping business owners and corporate leaders build their authority and influence through writing. Her writing program Get The Words Out helps people who want more writing in their life learn to break through writer’s block and build the routines that set them on the path to being prolific. Alyssa is also a 3x cancer survivor.

What you can expect from this episode:

  • Why deeper content and thought leadership will become even more important in the age of AI
  • How to create thought leadership
  • How to build a writing habit that sticks
  • Why you should be writing even if you have “people” to write for you (metacognitive thinking benefits)
  • Other ways to repurpose content (instead of just social media)
  • Why we need more diverse voices to share their writing to counterbalance the assumed default of the white male “expert” 
  • How to step into book writing 

Read the full transcript

Alyssa Burkus 0:00
If we aren’t going to be able to solve the problems of the world if we’re only listening to a small percentage of the world’s voices,

Meg Casebolt 0:09
you’re listening to social slowdown a podcast for entrepreneurs and micro businesses looking for sustainable marketing strategies without being dependent on social media. Social media is a double edged sword. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected. But it also can feel like an addictive obligation. And it’s even more complex for businesses, your audience might be right there, but you’ve got to fight with algorithms to maybe be seen by them. So whether you want to abandon social media altogether, or you just want to take a month off, it’s possible to have a thriving business without being dependent on social media. This podcast is all about finding creative, sustainable ways to engage with your audience without needing to lip sync, send to cold DMS, run ads or be available 24/7 Let’s get started. Hello, y’all, welcome to the social slowdown podcast. I am your host, Meg Casebolt. And I am here with Alisa Berkus we, in every conversation we’ve ever had, just leap right into, like very deep topics at a, you know, wild level. But in order to not just drop you into the middle of a conversation. Let’s start with this. Hello, Alyssa. Hi. Let’s start with like a really quick origin story of who you are what you did in kind of that change management space and what you’re doing now.

Alyssa Burkus 1:36
Yeah, thanks. This is gonna be so much fun. I, I always like to write it was it’s always been part of what I’ve enjoyed doing. And yet, I ignored that side of it didn’t imagine that you can make a living doing creative like things. And so I took a very reasonable corporate job coming out of grad school where I joined a global change consulting firm, did that for a number of years, had my own change consulting firm for even longer number of years, dabbled in some tech startup things along the way, as well. And about two years ago, maybe a little bit longer, I started I turned 50 and was the middle of a pandemic. And it was starting to feel a little bit restless about what the next arc of my work would look like, I had warned my partner, it turns out, every time I turn a birthday that ends in zero, I have sort of reflective things. Oh, no,

Meg Casebolt 2:42
my, my age ends in a nine. And I could just feel like

Alyssa Burkus 2:48
I could just feel that I was ready to go back to having my own business again. But I didn’t want to do change consulting, I had had some cancer recurrences, and I just didn’t, I didn’t want to get pulled back into change consulting, being on site, all the busyness of that and I was really ready for something different. And so I started thinking about what it would look like to have writing in my in as the main core of my business because I love to write. My most recent job had involved building methodology and programs and responsibility for various blogs for the sites. So I started thinking about that, I was reluctant to jump into the pure freelance, I’ll write anything for anybody head down up work. And so I started thinking about how do I combine my many years of organizational change and leadership experience and interest, frankly, with my love of writing and, and marketing. And so I had a hypothesis that consultants like the ones I used to be and have worked with for a number of years, would have an interest in needing some help with with marketing or content materials writing specifically, and that they would value the the industry or experience and knowledge that I would have the domain knowledge really in their space, and that they would choose, you know, there’s a myriad of choices that they have, they would see value in that. And so I started initially I wrote all kinds of different things, but over time really continue to focus and narrow in on longer form content and the strategy that goes with it. Sometimes it’s program building and program design, I might build a model for them that becomes part of wood the way that they talk about their work. And I also help people with with their own writing, so writing coaching and editing and training as well. So it’s become this kind of neat mix of things, we’ve always focused on helping people deepen their authority through really solid, well researched, thought leadership content.

Meg Casebolt 5:12
And I think that’s the thing that, you know, you said, I don’t want to just be a freelancer and go on Upwork and write for anybody, like you were so intentional about here is the type of person I want to write for. And here’s the type of outcome and output that I want to create for them, which is that deeper, longer, more, more nuanced content. This isn’t, you know, as the SEO person in the room, I can make fun of this, this isn’t the like, five reasons you need a dog today, types of listicles, right? Like,

Alyssa Burkus 5:46
I will tell prospects, I’m not the eight ways to redecorate your living room kind of writer. So they get it really quickly. You know, I don’t mean to sound disparaging of freelance writer who’s making it work on Upwork. I just knew from my own brain, and own pace of work and writing that I could not work at the volume of seeking and turnover, you know, cranking out 4050 documents a month a week, I couldn’t make a living that way, my brain just won’t let me do that. And so I needed to make an intentional path. And actually, I enjoy that kind of writing more anyway. And so it was a both and for me, and in that, in that instance.

Meg Casebolt 6:34
So talk to me about when people need the eight ways to redecorate your living room versus the deeper content because I think that there is a time and a place for both of those.

Alyssa Burkus 6:45
Absolutely, absolutely. You know, I, I’m just writing something right now, where the line, all thought leadership is content. And not all content is thought leadership, right? Boom, we need a both. And on my own site, I’m writing things that have the three ways the five ways because sometimes that’s what people need, they need a quick answer some quick ideas. as a, as a business owner, I have some pieces where I need to have the keywords in there, organic search is part of the my, my strategy. It’s not the strategy for all of my clients. And so sometimes what they really need is a longer piece that they use in different ways. They certainly have it on their website. But there may be using it as a PDF with a proposal or a pitch and in different places. So organic search isn’t necessarily how they’re finding their clients. It’s through networking and relationship building, pitching to be on bigger platforms, those types of things. So sometimes it comes down to that as well. But I think it is, I mean, I agree with you, it’s a it’s a both and we need some of those shorter pieces, capture interest draw people in, and we want to have those, those longer pieces that really let you settle into the topic, share a lot of things that are of value to people that you know, and really sort of show your stuff.

Meg Casebolt 8:14
Absolutely. And I think one of the things that stands out to me in terms of the deeper content, the thought leadership piece is like AI has made it so that you can produce low volume, I don’t want to say low quality, but like fast content, almost like fast food, totally vary that very quickly, very cheaply. Yeah, and like even the content that you’re talking about the thought leadership content is like the the I don’t know, maybe like it’s Michelin, maybe it’s like a three star it’s gonna be a five star Michelin but like it’s a three star Michelin restaurant. And there’s, they’re both food but like there’s a time and a place where you need to run through McDonald’s or even five guys like the flow fast or whatever. But like, there’s also a time where you want to sit down and really like enjoy the experience of writing and reading and explore something more interesting than just a cheeseburger.

Alyssa Burkus 9:07
Well, and if we’re not careful, our brains aren’t going to suffer if we’re not taking the time to read deeply longer form content, pausing to process to sense make write to figure out. What do I think about this, we’re so busy highlighting in our Kindles or paper books, I still read paper books and consuming content because we’re worried we don’t know enough. The world is telling us that there’s more out there, there’s better ideas. And so that slowing down to process what we think about it, I even find the experience of writing. Sometimes I’ll go into a piece knowing what I you know, the outlines there. I know exactly what I want to say. But other times I’m writing to figure out what I think about a topic and sometimes get a little bit surprised if I’m letting ai do All of that for me, then I’m missing that step that makes me smarter in the process.

Meg Casebolt 10:08
Or whether it’s aI that’s doing the writing or you’re outsourcing the writing. If you’re not the one who is really thinking through what you’re trying to say, then you do miss that opportunity to sort of like you were talking about, like highlighting and Kindle and always consuming, but there needs to be a point of synthesis.

Alyssa Burkus 10:25
Exactly, exactly. It’s that sense making, synthesizing? What do I think about a topic? That’s really important? There’s a difference between sharing and both are valuable, but sharing a piece that AI wrote for you with a client versus sharing a piece that you’ve worked through the nuances and the details. And frankly, at this point in time, AI can’t tell your clients what the real first person lived experience is about a particular topic that may happen in the future. But right now, that is one of your biggest differentiators. You can speak voice to voice to a client or voice to text if you’re sending a piece of a your lived experience and solving a problem that they that’s keeping them up at night. And that is there’s huge value in that and they’re looking at your as more and more AI content comes out, which is the information, your clients will be looking for examples of this so wide. And now what what do I do with this information? Who else has solved it? And you can provide that in sharing your first person stories and experience through

Meg Casebolt 11:37
it kind of as you were explaining that I was thinking about? Bloom’s Taxonomy. Yeah. If listeners if you’re not familiar with the idea, there’s this pyramid called Bloom’s Taxonomy, where the levels of understanding or learning about a specific topic move up over time into into a triangle. And so at the lowest level, I just looked it up. So I’m not remembering this off the top of my head. My work? Yeah, I thought at the lowest level, there’s like knowledge and, and remembering things. And AI is really good at pulling together knowledge of like, grabbing things from around the internet and putting them together. A step above that is understanding, you know, knowing what it is that you’re talking about. And then its application of that information. And then above that is analysis, and then synthesis, and then evaluation. And a lot of that can be done through these algorithms or through outsourcing. You know, if I’m saying to you, Alyssa, can you write me a blog post about keyword research, you can be like, alright, well, here’s what I know about keyword research. And here’s what I understand. And here’s how you can actually use it in your work. But like, you haven’t been studying it the way that I have for the last 10 years to be able to say, Oh, and here are some other correlations into other fields, right. So sometimes, even when you’re outsourcing or using these tools that can help you get those kind of I don’t want to say like lower level, but like the the knowledge gap pulling together, it still is up to the leaders to analyze, to synthesize to evaluate to draw some critical conclusions. And the way to get at that thought leadership to get at those conclusions that are higher level is in your experience, through writing about them exploring them that way.

Alyssa Burkus 13:22
Yeah. Yeah. The different the example I use when we’re talking about sort of moving up in Bloom’s, I don’t use it in conversations too often, but I do use

Meg Casebolt 13:33
it’s, you know, with you and me, it’s just gonna be straight nerd all the time.

Alyssa Burkus 13:39
Difference between imagine you’re, you’re rolling out a corporate training program about safety. It’s the difference between pre pandemic where you had certain policies, you needed people to memorize and follow to the letter, versus moving into a safety environment where there’s guiding principles that help people make decisions for themselves. That’s where you’re taking information, and applying it in new and new and unique ways. That complexity, as you move to the top lets you solve an infinite number of problems in certain in situations you couldn’t even conceive of. And I think as the world becomes more uncertain and complex, those types of thinking models and showing your work as you’re helping people solve those, you know, we call them wicked problems, right? They’re really deep things that people are struggling with. Showing your work and how you are synthesizing the information available. And helping apply it in new and unique ways can be really helpful. This isn’t to say that you have to be deeply nerdy and feel extremely brilliant in order to consider diving into writing a thought leadership piece. Quite frankly, some of the best ones are the simplest in writing of the way that they’re explained and and, you know situations it’s the full or completeness of it, it allows people to move through a topic and understand why that topic matters to you why it should matter to them. The So what of it. So what issues maybe there’s some data or research, you can pull in your experience in if we ignore continue to ignore us, these things will continue to happen, or new new problems will show up, how you solve it, and some simple steps and how they can get started bringing the audience with you, and helping show them how some simple ways that they can start to activate it. That’s thought leadership that’s taking more, you know, pieces and putting them together, I’ve seen you talk about mag, taking three articles and putting them together in a collection that becomes a longer form. Cornerstone piece. That’s, you know, that’s a great example of it too. So I don’t want people to be scared away that it’s this like Brainiac world with only people who are allowed to do this kind of work. It’s, it’s available to everybody, it just takes a little more time and thoughtfulness or intention.

Meg Casebolt 16:15
I love what I just heard you say about like, the questions you can ask yourself to take things from what could otherwise be kind of more normal. I don’t want to say bland. I don’t want to say media, but like normal content into thought leadership content. And the three questions I heard you sort of suggest are? So what? Right like AI can write you something AI can say, here’s, here’s why this matters. And then you can go okay, so what, like, how does this apply to my life? What’s the practical application? The next one would be like, how does this matter for me, which is where those personal stories and narratives can come in? And then the next piece is like, what’s next?

Alyssa Burkus 16:56
Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Meg Casebolt 16:59
So if you’re thinking about like, what’s the thought leadership around this, ask those. Those are those three prompts. They’re not straight questions, but like, so what? For me? What’s next?

Alyssa Burkus 17:09
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Meg Casebolt 17:11
And so when when we’re trying to, like, figure out if if you’ve been writing content, or maybe it’s not even maybe you don’t want to think about this as content, maybe you’re like, I had a tick tock that went viral, or I had an Instagram post that got a lot of engagement. How do I then, like make that more of a, either more of a conversation or more of a habit in terms of exploring these topics?

Alyssa Burkus 17:37
Yeah, the writing habit, piece of it, I think is really important. So there’s a couple of things. As you think of those ideas, you see something you wrote that went viral, or in my world, mini viral, you know, like 10, people liked

Unknown Speaker 17:52
it. Viral, viral is relevant.

Alyssa Burkus 17:56
Yeah, my scale of viral is maybe different. But it may be different for other people too. But something even in a conversation with a client or a prospect that you think, oh, there’s something there that I think more people should hear about from me. I always collect those ideas in the same place. So really intentional about idea collection. For me, it’s a notion for you know, it could be always in the notes section of your phone, Google Doc, wherever, wherever you want to do that they’re always in the same place, so that you can go back to that singular place, and dip into what are those ideas, some of them will never see the light of day, but some of them will continue to puzzle you or interest you. And then taking time every day. I call it a daily writing habit. It’s not journaling. It’s not writing 2000 words, either every day, it’s taking 10 or 15 minutes. At an intentional time in your day for me, I really wanted to make this habit stick so I anchored it between cups of coffee. So first cup of coffee, get the brain. Second Cup of Coffee is where I do my 10 or 15 minutes of writing practice. Sometimes it’s taking that idea and noodling it a little bit or taking quotes I use read wise to collect all of my quotes across paper books and Kindle newsletters, etc. Grabbing a couple of quotes from there and writing my thoughts on them. Do I agree? Is my experience consistent with it? Does it connect to something bigger than I’m working on if I’m launching a program or working on something for a client, but starting to build those out into several sentences, or if I’m really on a roll, maybe a couple of paragraphs, I store all those in what I’ve labeled in Google Drive as my writing sandbox. And so that becomes a collection of draft articles that I can again some of those was never make the light of day either they’re just for me, they’re ranty, or really time sensitive, and I missed the window to publish, some of them have some legs, and you can start to add to them, move them into in the tech world, we would always have like a staging area. And that’s what I think my writing, right it’s like I move them out of the sandbox into my studio, which is another folder. But that’s what it’s called, where it feels like they’re getting ready for the big show that you know, they’re, they’re closer to publish ready, and I can start to think about when I want to schedule them out. But I’m, I’m moving that idea through an intentional process every time to give it more depth, my experience connecting ideas, so that whenever I’m due for an article, or I’m launching a newsletter later this month, that I’ve got stuff ready to go that is reflective of my experience. And it’s just sort of greasing the wheels along the way, right? There’s always stuff in production or in the pipeline that makes it easier to get more pieces out in the world, whether it’s for me or for clients.

Meg Casebolt 21:12
Yeah, and I love that too. Because I think sometimes people feel like oh, Allah newsletters ready, and I don’t have anything written what but it’s like, if you’re always kind of putting something down, then you never have to look at a blank sheet of paper. Exactly, exactly. And if you have a brand new idea, go ahead and write it out. But if you if you are just showing up and going like I got nothing in the tank today, but I feel like I want to move on something like by having that sandbox of here, ideas that aren’t quite ready for, you know, what is it that not ready for primetime players?

Alyssa Burkus 21:44
Exactly. primetime.

Meg Casebolt 21:47
But they’re they’re practicing. And if you have them in that folder, you know that they’re there, your brain is gonna keep thinking about them back in that like default state, just like floating around in the back of your brain. Some at some point, it might come back to the forefront, you’ll be like, Oh, that was that thing that I got stuck on that. And now I’m ready for it. I’d like to think of like, people use marinate. I like to think of it like marinade. Like, I have ideas that are soaking. Yeah, some sort of vinegar solution. Like they’re writing. I don’t know.

Alyssa Burkus 22:21
Yeah, grinding. I don’t know how that works in my sandbox. It gets messy. But

Meg Casebolt 22:25
oh, yeah, you don’t want to put too much salt into your sandbox it gets a little grumpy

Alyssa Burkus 22:29
with actually, it’s interesting from a from a psychology perspective, when instead of starting with a blank page, when I open up my sandbox, and I see all these started articles, what comes over me is this sense. sounds really corny, but it’s a sense of, oh, yeah, I am a writer, you know, I’ve got I, I’ve got this, I’ll figure it out. I’ll either start with this, or I’ve got this new idea. But I see the thumbnails, you know, across the page. And it’s like, oh, yeah, okay, I do know a couple of things about a couple of things. And I’ve got something I can I can use here that is really satisfying in that moment to go from instead of blank page panic to Hmm, okay, I can I can relax a little bit and just choose something.

Meg Casebolt 23:19
Yeah, I can start, I can start something new, or I can pick up where I left off. I don’t always have to be creating something from scratch every single time. Yeah, absolutely. And it talks to me a little bit about like how this could potentially turn into something greater, you know, we have these standalone blog posts or thought leadership pieces, or maybe you put them on medium so that way, they get a bit more traction, or you send them out as you know, you create a sub stack or a Patreon or like you find a way to distribute them. But like, what, then? Yeah, do you mean I just threw a lot of ideas of ways to share thought leadership as like, a throwaway sentence. When

Alyssa Burkus 24:04
you’re talking about repurposing, right, how do I yeah, how do I get more bang for my buck? Yeah,

Meg Casebolt 24:09
you know, especially if it’s if it’s a topic where like, I started writing this a year ago. And finally, I feel like it’s at that staging stage. And I want to start sharing this as a core value or as something that I want more people than my usual 10 Viral people, you know, my mom and three of her friends and my cat, I want more than them to read it, I want to be able to leverage it into something more long term and a little bit greater, like what’s the what’s the idea there?

Alyssa Burkus 24:37
So there’s two in my mind, there’s two paths to that one is the type of piece that you’re hoping will be a business building element. So you’re trying to get it into prospects hands, you know, in that case, I would be at it I would be converting it into a really beautiful PDF through, you know, beacon li or Canva. One of the one of the Lead Magnet tools or templates, and I would be adding it to my discovery call confirmation page, I might even add it as a link at the bottom of my signature, I would add it to my proposal pitch, I would add it to if I’m looking to partner with people from an agency agency perspective, I might include it in my set of, you know, portfolio of ideas or products. So I would be looking for places where I’m already in communication with somebody and I would be adding it in as a way to experience me differently. So that would be the place where I’d be going right, turn it into, you know, some of the obvious things around lead magnet workbook, that sort of thing. But if it’s a, if it’s something that is an idea, or my experience that will help, I believe in some small way, change the world for someone, whether it’s a work experience, whether it’s on a tiny tiny scale, my neighborhood or my community, or a certain type of accountants that I want to make work life easier for whatever that might be, then I probably would be looking to see where they live and hang out. So are there groups in different and that’s where, you know, social media is helpful in helping connect you to people, I might be sharing more on things like LinkedIn medium, some of those other places, or using it as a pitch to a pot a different kind of podcasts where I’m not doing it to be finding my client audience, but I’m actually finding my social cause audience and sharing that information that way. So, yeah, so part of it is just who do you want to see it? Who’s the audience? What’s the value to them? Versus what am I trying to get out of it? Right?

Meg Casebolt 26:53
Totally. And I think also, like one that I know you’re working on that didn’t come up in here is also taking some of that thought leadership content and building it slowly and turning it into like a book format,

Alyssa Burkus 27:04
right? Yeah. Yeah, that’s, I mean, I think as the more I meet people who hear that I, Ghost Ghost did my first book last year, I’m working on my own first book, right? Now, when people hear that I get two reactions, either Oh, I’m working on my first book right now. Or maybe they’ve written one, or oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book. So I think a lot of people have a book on their heart. So the idea of a book is really appealing. What I love about book writing is the ability to go really, really deep, I think it tests your, your mettle, right, like you think you know a lot about a topic. If you’re gonna write, you know, nine or 10 or 12 chapters on it, you really have to explore that topic in detail, both in terms of the depth of research or information or number of words to write. But also, you have to really like that topic, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time. And then a lot of time talking about that book, you know, for the next, hopefully, a couple of years. Right? And so, yeah, it’s it’s a really interesting format to get into. And I think it’s really doable, it’s more doable than people realize. It takes some intention, I think it takes, you know, I really worked on increasing what I call my writing velocity. So the speed and volume and quality of my writing for probably six or eight months leading up to that book opportunity, not because of that, but because of my business, I needed to be doing more. But it also meant when that opportunity came to me, I felt really ready to step into that first. That first book. Yeah, and the finding out with yours, you’re writing one two, aren’t you?

Meg Casebolt 28:55
I’m writing like 20. That’s not really That’s quite the hyperbole there. But yes, I’m writing a book. And I think for me, it was like, start with a building blocks.

Alyssa Burkus 29:07
Yeah, like outline. You know, like, for me,

Meg Casebolt 29:11
it was blog posts and podcasts, start with the conversations, then turn it into an outline, then expand it into something greater. But it was almost like I had to what you were talking about building up that writing velocity like I had to, to formulate the thoughts to see the framework to turn into the outline to become the book. So it was a much longer process for me in that case. And then for the first one that I’m writing, I outsourced it to, you know, I had a conversation with a ghostwriter. And I’ll have her on the podcast to talk about that more. So I’m not gonna get into too much details about that. But it was like I sat down with her and I’m like, Alright, here’s what I feel. Like I’ve said here are the key points, the key takeaways that I want to make sure that we hit hard on. And then I said, Okay, what resources do we already have. And I created a notion doc that was like, Oh, here’s 26 podcasts that I’ve recorded that we can pull these ideas from. And then take the outline, build the outline, put the content that’s already in there, and then start to extrapolate and like, make more ideas, and then synthesize the ideas of conversations that I had a year ago and six months ago, but there still are these threads that tie together like, and that’s where it started to get really interesting for me was the synthesis and the correlations between these different conversations and these different ideas. And, and that’s where it sounds like you’re kind of going into like, kind of the studio space of you have all these ideas, and then how do they fit together? And how much time do they need to breathe independently? And there’s so much interesting. So much interesting. work that happens when you start to write?

Alyssa Burkus 30:58
Yeah, yeah. I think of it as the difference with a blog post or a longer form piece for clients, like, all right, basically, one of my clients, I write a 5000 word ebook for them every other month. And that’s like a 500 word puzzle. And then a book is like a 1500, word puzzle, right? Or 2000, or 2000 piece puzzle. It’s the same kind of idea. There’s just so much more to knit together and structure. It’s a really, it’s a really great experience to dive into and help figure out what’s the logical flow? How are you best sequencing the ideas to support the argument and help people be able to be changed in some small way from having having read the book,

Meg Casebolt 31:53
I love the idea of like a puzzle to where it’s like, you always start with the edges. Like that’s your outline, right? And then you color code it and those are sort of your, your parts and your ideas. And then you can start to dig into like, how do these different pieces fit together?

Alyssa Burkus 32:08
Yeah, the only difference is with a with writing a book. You don’t have the picture ahead of time, you get all these puzzle pieces. And you’re just it’s like those puzzles, which I’ve never tried, but I’ve been tempted, right that are all the same color. Right? You don’t really know what’s gonna happen. You got all these pieces, and you just kind of start somewhere.

Meg Casebolt 32:30
So I don’t have the patience for that. Nope. No, I

Alyssa Burkus 32:34
don’t think I will ever do it. But yeah, it’s it’s like a puzzle. Right? Long Form. Writing is like, puzzle building without the picture.

Meg Casebolt 32:42
Yeah. Or like upside down. You know, there are people that do the puzzles upside down, and then they flip it over, and they see what it is. And that’s so funny. Yeah. impressive to me.

Alyssa Burkus 32:52
I have one friend that I do puzzles with occasionally. And I’m the upside down person. But not normally. I mean, anyway.

Meg Casebolt 33:02
I mean, we mean upside down. I mean, like flipped over. So all you see is the cardboard.

Alyssa Burkus 33:06
Oh, yeah, yeah, no, no, no, thank you. No,

Meg Casebolt 33:09
thank you. So I know another thing that you and I feel strongly about is like, who should be doing this? And why is it important that we have diverse voices, who are exploring and writing and creating and sharing their life life experiences?

Alyssa Burkus 33:26
Is this where we got ranty? Please take

Meg Casebolt 33:29
it run here. Here’s here’s your soapbox. I’m setting it up for you climb up. Go.

Alyssa Burkus 33:36
Is this is the most important value of my business, or really the reason that I felt urgency to start this business was wanting more than the all white male top 10 bookless, best of being shared over and over again, we aren’t going to be able to solve the problems of the world if we’re only listening to a small percentage of the world’s voices. So it’s important to me and I mean, my business is called shift wisdom, which initially when I started it, I had a lot of people say to me, you know, if you’re going to be a writer, you kind of should have writing in the title of your business, just, you know, just like a tip. And it was important to me that we’re changing how we think about wisdom, that all of us have ideas and experience that can help solve the world’s problems. And I say that in sounds yes, there’s a massive scale of problems, but sometimes it’s immediate problems in a small our, our corner of the world. So I think we need more people sharing their experience, like every time, I see someone saying, Oh, you We need to dive deeply into the work of the stoics. My first reaction is always, how about instead of spending lots of time digging into the work of a whole bunch of white men who have been dead for a really long time, a couple of things that are a value, certainly, because it’s still accessible today. But how about you spend some time listening to the experience of black women in your organization and what their experience of the world is like, and the challenges that that they’re facing, and how potentially your product could be in service to some of their issues, or quite frankly, any number of, you know, neurodivergent, accessibility, gender, race, there’s There’s any number of ways to look at diversity. And we need to be considering that range and hearing from that range of people and experiences, if we are going to be able to do what we set out to do or make the change that we want to make. So that means more people need to be getting their voices out so that it becomes understood that if we’re pursuing a topic, we want to hear and read deeply across a range of experiences to understand the true picture of that topic, and how people are experiencing that topic. So yeah, so that’s my, that’s my soapbox rant. I feel really, really passionate ly, about that. And I hope that people will continue to feel encouraged to use writing as a way to, to express their experience and ideas.

Meg Casebolt 36:46
Yeah, I just finished copy editing for a friend, she just wrote a book about how to be more focused, and how to be more intentional about the topics that that you’re spending your time on. And the reason that she felt like she wanted to write it is because this is my friend Megan flat, who’s been on the podcast. So we’ll share that book, when it’s really the reason she wanted to share it is because so many productivity resources are meant for men who are neither the default caregiver. They have, they’re usually in some sort of corporate environment where they are expected to be at a desk from like 8am to five or 6pm. And they have financial and health resources at their disposal, and my friend, Megan, one to explore this as a parent who works in her own business part time, so that way she can be there with her kids. And she also has many, many of her clients are from diverse life experiences and experiencing chronic illness. And therefore, it’s not just time management, it’s also energy management. And all the advice that’s out there does not take those diverse life experiences into consideration. It’s just like, well, just work harder. Just hustle.

Alyssa Burkus 38:04
Earlier, if you woke up at 4am, you could have so much more in your business. Is that the secret? Yeah, like, we hear it over and over again. Right? The Five Love right? Isn’t

Meg Casebolt 38:17
that what it’s called? Yeah. And then there’s also like the the morning, the Miracle Morning, where you spend an hour working out and journaling and like all those things, I was like, You know what I do at 5am I’m usually crawling into my kid’s bed because he’s having a nightmare. You know, like, I’m, I’m up at five, but that’s not my best time of day. I gotta get him out the door on the bus. I gotta, you know, like, there’s a lot happening here.

Alyssa Burkus 38:40
For me, it was always the time blocking. So I had a number of issues coming out of chemo, I had a lot of chemo in 2017. And it kind of broke my brain for a while. And so I needed to really intentionally build a new set of productivity and prac, right, even memory practices so that I could function in my working life. So things like time blocking. Don’t, don’t work necessarily for neurodivergent brains. There’s a great book by David Davey as well, mind management on time management, that talks about mental energy needed for specific creative tasks. And that was really helpful because I was always, you know, you read the Oh, the best writers, all right, you know, from 6am butts in chairs for, you know, six hours. And that 10,000 words a day. Yeah. And I never felt like a true writer because I could never do that 5am writing thing. And what that book showed me and other books is there’s no one way to do any of this. No one knows what they’re doing. They’re all just trying to figure out the way that works for them and You know, as you start to observe and look at where do you feel most in the flow? What are you doing in those moments, try to identify that and replicate those moments. For me, I learned editing is better in the early afternoon. And actually, I’m better with deep writing mid to late afternoon, etc, etc. Right? So figuring out what works for you.

Meg Casebolt 40:25
Yeah, and sometimes it’s time of day. And sometimes it’s day of the week. And sometimes it’s time of the month, especially for those of us in female bodies, sometimes time of the month makes a pretty big difference in terms of your focus. And that’s not something that people talk about. It’s like the world is built for a 24 hour circadian rhythm, not a 28 day cycle, where some days you have more energy, and some days you don’t, and if you’ve already gone through menopause, and that’s also going to impact the way that your brain is working, or the way that the hormones are flowing through your body. And like, nobody’s talking about that.

Alyssa Burkus 40:57
Yeah, it’s really important. Because I think what happens is, we feel when we can’t fit into that mainstream one way mold, we give up. So we feel

Meg Casebolt 41:10
like we’re doing it wrong, instead of figuring out how to make it work for us,

Alyssa Burkus 41:14
is not available to us, right. If I can’t write at 5am, I’m probably not meant to be a writer. Instead of what time of day to day of the week, you’re so right days, the days of the week feel different, there’s a different energy with them, at least in my experience of what I do on a Monday is different than a Wednesday or Friday. But starting to dig into that will show you some different patterns that will work for you. Everyone can make this work if if they figure out the formula, the combination that works for them.

Meg Casebolt 41:48
So people want to start establishing it maybe not even establishing the writing practice in terms of like, what, when to sit down and write but more like, why is this important? And like? How do you know what you’re an expert enough in that you can become a thought leader in it? Like I think, especially those of us socialized as women, we have this like, well, like the imposter complex is struggle? Well, I don’t have anything to say about that. Like, how do you know what you have something to say about?

Alyssa Burkus 42:18
Yeah, yeah. It’s tricky, isn’t it, I believe, right? thought leadership content, without necessarily needing to use the label of thought leader. Meaning, there’s likely topics you’re exploring really deeply, maybe they’re related to your work, maybe they’re connected to your work, like productivity plus writing, or parenting plus marketing, whatever, there might be some intersection of ideas that feel important to you, and start to dig into those. I think we neglect the experiences, the range of experiences that we have, even if we’re new in our careers or new in our business, we have some lived experience already. All of us do, you know, coming out of school, first, corporate, or job experiences for businesses, wherever that place, is, there already answers inside of you. It doesn’t require more reading more collecting of ideas. So taking some time to really think about what matters to me what matters to my clients, what do I know, really deeply. In some cases, you might be new on the path of knowledge. And that’s okay, too. Because sometimes, being closer to the learner, you’re actually sharing things that are more relevant to where they’re at, than a, you know, mega famous expert who’s forgotten what the day to day grind looks like. So there’s always value in sharing that experience, even if you’re just a little bit further along the path than the others and the people that you’re speaking to, I guarantee you no more on a topic, or you say I’m new at this, but you’re you know, I call it writing into your future, right? You want to be an expert in a particular area. As you start to dig into that topic, write about it, what you’re learning how it connects to something you already know. Working out loud is a way to write your way into becoming that thought leader or expert. So there’s no real time to wait. What I do see happening in some cases is the pretend experts, right? You know, the 14 ways to do such and such and when you actually dig into it, they don’t have any lived experience at all. They’re just guessing in that case, my mind they’re more like aI than a real life. Right? They’re sort of collecting a couple of things, hoping it sticks they right at Vault All human. So if you write 100 things, or 1000 things, there’ll be something that will land in that. But most of the people I encounter are actually hesitating. When they have really great lived experience, interesting things are reading, whether it’s interesting to 100, other people might be only interesting to three other people. Those are your people. And though when you write to those three people who get really excited about your what you’re writing about, then they’ll share it, and eventually it will grow. So it doesn’t need to be things that you imagine 1000 or 100,000 people being really interested in, it’s okay, if it’s a small audience, do it anyway, see, the reaction that you get

Meg Casebolt 45:45
something that you said that that really stuck out to me is like, thinking about the Venn diagram of lived experiences that you have, like, if you were to say to me, even though I’ve been, you know, in the marketing space for 25 years and running my own business for nine years, if you were to say to me, like, go be an expert on marketing, like no, I’m not, I don’t know. I don’t know it. Right. I don’t know enough yet. And I can’t speak to that. But if you say to me, can you talk to me about the intersection of social media business and mental health, we take those three circles, we put a Venn diagram in them, and I just have to talk about that little triangle in the middle of that Venn diagram and explore that more deeply. That’s what this podcast is about. It’s social media. It’s not all marketing. It’s online, small businesses. It’s not every business. And it’s, it’s not everything about mental health, either. But it’s a little bit of neurodiversity, and a little bit of anxiety. There’s a lot to put in some mindset work. And when I started to dig into, what do I know about not all things marketing, but these three mini micro niches, that’s where the conversation got interesting. That’s where I felt like I had a hook to start the exploration. And then when I sat down went, Well, who do I want to talk to about these topics? Where I’m not an expert? And what are the things that I want to say and solo episodes? And then that became like, almost like a? Well, you know, me and my mural boards, but like, it was a mind map for me of this piece, this piece, where do these fit together? And then it became a murder wall. And once I get into the murder wall zone, then I feel like I have something more fun. Yeah. Once I get those red strings out and just start looking like Charlie Day, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, that’s when I feel like I have something.

Alyssa Burkus 47:37
Yeah, well, and I use those, those three circles Venn diagram in my course. And in my work as well, for people who are looking to get started at the deeper work, and the three, if you’re not sure what your three circle topics should be, try industry topic, special interests, sometimes there’s something there, or the other one that I use a lot is three M’s. So what’s your method? What’s How do you do the work that you do? What’s your message? So what’s the so what are the why around why you do what you do? And then what’s the mindset element that makes if you can solve for that mindset element makes the rest of it work more easily. For me, this is so good. There’s some mental blocks, right that people can have around their work. And so invariably, there’s an element of that, that you’re helping people solve as well. Sometimes you’ll rely more on the message or the method in what you’re doing. But then as you start to explore that, and you combine what comes out of combining the message and the method, there might be some new ideas that come there, or the message and the mindset. If I think about, you know, part of my messages, everyone needs to get their voice out. What’s holding them back, you know, what some of the psychology that is making that difficult? Are there particular places where that’s tricky. So, yeah, that might be ways for people to start to build their own van of ideas.

Meg Casebolt 49:10
I love that. All right. So you just blew my mind a little bit with this, like method and message and mindset, Venn diagram. And it doesn’t have to be one of each. It can be any of those. But if you’re thinking like I would love to be a thought leader, but I don’t know where to start, that might be a really good place to start. Now, if people want to learn more about you or work with you, or have you sit with them to come up with their signature message or go through your training about how to do some of those writing, how do they get in touch with you, Alyssa?

Alyssa Burkus 49:40
They can find me. My website is shift wisdom.com They can find me on LinkedIn. I’m actually the only Alyssa Berkus on LinkedIn, which is kind of fun, or on Instagram, at shift wisdom.

Meg Casebolt 49:58
All right, we will definitely include wasn’t the shownotes thank you so much for your time. And

Alyssa Burkus 50:03
thank you so much.

Meg Casebolt 50:06
Thank you so much for listening to the social slowdown podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe or come on over to social slowdown.com and sign up for our email list so you never miss an episode. We’d also love if you could write a review to help other small business owners find the show you can head over to social slowdown.com/review Or grab that link in our show notes for easy access. We’ll be back soon with more tips to help you market your business without being beholden to social media. Talk to you then.

Please forgive any typos or errors, as this transcript was automatically generated.

thought leadership and writing in the age of AI with alyssa burkus

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