Updated: Apr 22
When Kiran Mazumdbar-Shaw began her career as a certified brewmaster in 1975, she had no idea that she would eventually start her own biopharmaceutical company, Biocon Limited, and become one of the most influential and richest women in the world.
This self-made entrepreneur and thought leader has contributed exponentially to the medical and pharmaceutical industries. As a lifelong advocate for affordable medicine, along with her impressive list of achievements, she was placed on the Medicine Makers 2020 Power List, as well as on the Forbes 2020 list of the world's 100 most influential women.
But what really qualifies Mazumdbar-Shaw as a thought leader, and why are entrepreneurs so looking for this coveted title?
Define thought management
In the age of social media and digital marketing, the concept of thought management has changed to an overused buzzword that is attributed to almost everyone who wants to claim it. But what does this term really mean and is it even useful to strive to be a thought leader today?
To answer this question, let's distinguish between a thought leader and an expert.
While a thought leader will no doubt be an expert, the opposite is not always true. The latter is an experienced professional who is well acquainted with a specific field. They can be known for their wealth of knowledge and be seen as an industry leader. Professionals work hard for their achievements and have the basic qualities to become a thought leader.
Thought leaders, on the other hand, have two primary characteristics that push them beyond the etiquette of subject matter experts. First, they consistently develop new concepts, ideas and strategies to improve and refine their industries. Second, thought leaders share these ideas with others in simplified terms that they can understand. They not only contribute to industry conversations, but lead, educate and motivate others to be innovative and think outside the box. They are game changers, those who set sail and change direction completely when they find a better route. You need not only passion and expertise, but critical thinking, patience and courage to lay out your thoughts and ideas and finally take action.
This is precisely why thought management and entrepreneurship go hand in hand.
Why entrepreneurs create exceptional thought leaders
Although there are many types of entrepreneurs, they all have one thing in common: Entrepreneurs are natural-born problem solvers who create something out of nothing. They have the vision and perseverance to make an idea a reality that will undoubtedly come with many setbacks along the way. Entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to see the bigger picture and imagine a new and different world, one that exploits and benefits from their ingenious innovation.
So how was Kiran Mazumbdar-Shaw able to not only achieve so many professional goals, but claim the title of thought leader? The truth is that entrepreneurs and thought leaders share similar characteristics and personality traits that can help us understand why the two are often one and the same.
Muzumbdar-Shaw's journey began in 1978 from the garage to her home in Bengaluru, India at the age of 25. Her first intention when she created Biocon was to focus on the extraction and production of specialty enzymes for medicinal purposes, such as papain from papaya. After doing so successfully, Biocon became the first Indian company to export these materials to the United States and Europe. It was at this time that the company switched from only enzyme production to producing biopharmaceuticals.
A key component of Mazumbdar-Shaw's motivation behind her work was her belief that everyone should be able to afford the medicines they need to maintain their health. She was determined to incorporate this into her business model so that medicines would be readily available to developing countries and vulnerable populations, and encouraged other pharmaceutical companies to do the same. However, she was subjected to exhaustive discrimination because she was a woman and had difficulty finding employees and investors because of her gender.
But she persevered and remained outspoken against rising drug costs and rising prices, which strengthened India's reputation as a global leader in pharmaceutical development. Ultimately, her philanthropic efforts have made her a pioneer in the field of affordable drugs.
As she says:
"All entrepreneurs have a responsibility to the world around them and the communities in which they operate."
This is her legacy.
How can entrepreneurs develop their own thought management?
Just as Mazumbdar-Shaw's passion and drive go beyond the scope of her business, it requires developing your own mindset diligence and continuous effort. It can give you respect, esteem and admiration, as well as the opportunity to create new business models and industry standards.
Here's how you can start developing your own.
Assess your impact
As an entrepreneur, you have already ventured into the business world. But think about the core message you are trying to share and the greater impact you want to have. What do you see as your overall purpose, and do you have a major mission you have not yet accomplished? There is no right or wrong answer, but becoming a thought leader requires just that: leadership. Spend some time thinking about what tracks you want to leave in your industry - and in the world.
Create content - and a lot of it
The key to establishing yourself as a thought leader is to create written and visual content that conveys your message. It is not enough to have knowledge; you need to share it with others and prove why your ideas are worth putting into practice.
One way you can do this is by having your own platform, such as creating a blog. Dedicate yourself to writing a new article each week where you share changes you want to see in your field, effective strategies you have implemented in your own business and the direction you see the industry go.
You can also contact other relevant online publications and request to be a guest contributor. Then use social media, newsletters and your personal website to share your written work.
Video is also extremely valuable. In fact, people keep 95% of a message when they see it in a video, compared to 10% when they read it in text. Because of this, this type of engagement can significantly contribute to strengthening the brand identity, building community and stimulating conversations. By using a platform like YouTube, you can build networks, increase the number of followers, increase your reputation online and reach new audiences. Just make sure each video is professional in quality, whether you make them yourself or hire someone to film you.
And finally, direct speech engagements are one of the most strategic ways to get your voice heard. Think of conferences, university lectures, and even TED Talks. The opportunity to stand and speak in front of your peers allows you to reach people on a more personal level. You have the chance to engage the audience more completely, demystify your ideas and strengthen your message.
Although establishing thought leadership is an ongoing process, entrepreneurs already have the commitment and perseverance required to do so. It is their passion, commitment to work and their naturally born drive that motivates them to persevere. By sharing their expertise and personal credibility with the world, entrepreneurs have the power to be the future of the modern workforce.
Freddy Fix borrowed from Wix