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“You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.”

— Tony Robbins

Let me share a quick story.

Last summer, I became obsessed with Snapchat. I had an AHA moment as I watched Game 7 of the NBA finals from an airplane tarmac in Chicago. Being able to see the beads of sweat pouring off LeBron James through the vantage point of courtside fans in 10-second video increments was so enthralling, I knew in that moment that content creation and consumption would never be the same.

This AHA geeked me out so much that I started blogging about Snapchat, talking about Snapchat to everyone I knew and of course using the platform every day, all day, like whoa.
During this window of obsession, a few notable things happened:

The Chicago Tribune featured me as one of the top entrepreneurs to follow on Snapchat.
I was interviewed on a top-ranking podcast as a Snapchat “expert.”

And the day that Insta Stories launched, dozens of people (mostly strangers) emailed me, texted me and approached me to ask what I thought about it.

It seemed, over a six-week period, that I had become a Snapchat expert.

While my infatuation with Snapchat has subdued (you’ll find me more on Insta Stories these days ironically), I look at this experience as an experiment in simply being “about something.” For a time, Snapchat became my “X,” and the results were astonishing.
So ask yourself: What’s your X?

When people think of you, what do they think about? Are you a Twitter guru? Are you a health and wellness pro? Do you have serious tech chops? Do people come to you for relationship or business advice? What is the single service you provide that no one else can offer? Whatever that “something” is, when they think of it, you want them to think of you.

You are your own best marketing machine. I repeat: YOU are your own best marketing machine.
So knowing and owning your X is your first step on the pathway to greatness. Then?

Drink it, eat it, sleep it, wear it, own it, shout it, want it, BE IT.

Be shameless in your mission; be convicted in your message. Be loved for it, or be hated for it. But don’t be ignored for doing what you do best.

Just be your X.

Here a few tactics to get your X out into the world and become a sought-after thought leader in your industry:

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Content, Content, Content:

Here’s the ugly truth: Thought leaders write. They write often, and they write prolifically around the subject matter they are seeking expertise in. This doesn’t have to be as laborious as you think. I’m a fan of the “create once, publish often” model. Write your thought leadership blog (or get some help to write it) and disseminate across Medium, Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit and your own personal blog, and then amplify it through social. Social is a conduit and a tactic to share your X, but it’s not where the heart of your content should be built.

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If you’ve become one of those thought leaders who does everything behind the safety of your computer or in the office, it’s time to shake things up. You must go out into the world. Bring your business cards, dress on-brand and wear your X on your hypothetical sleeve. Connect with other thought leaders in your space, attend events that align with your message and show up with passion. I believe so much that there is no better way to make an impact than by simply showing up. Business and branding are built on relationships — real, human, shake-your-hand, look-into-your-eyes connection — so don’t underestimate the importance of in-person networking.

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Walk Your Walk and Drink Your Own Kool-Aid:

As a friend once said, “Would you buy meat from a vegan butcher, get a haircut from a bald barber or get an eye exam from a blind ophthalmologist?”
(I know, I know, but you get my point.)

Last summer, when I was deep into my Snapchat phase, imagine if I wasn’t using the platform at all and merely just preaching about it? Nothing would have happened. Instead, I was constantly in the app, creating innovative content, using the hacks and tips I was learning (and talking about) in real time, connecting with fellow Snapchatters, building relationships with them and helping to grow my audience through theirs and vice versa. I was engaged, having fun and most of all, I believed in what I was putting out there. And because I was walking my walk, I was seeing the return.

Whatever your X, become a shining example of the results and the impact you know only you can deliver. It’s one of the surest ways to SimplyBe about something and skyrocket your Personal Brand to the next tier.

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