The Role of Content Digitization in business growth- Peter Winick [Interview]

About Peter Winick

Peter Winick is the CEO and co-founder of ‘Thought Leadership Leverage’. He is a well-renowned podcast host and has helped individuals and organizations build and grow revenue streams through designing and growing their thought leadership platforms. His clients include the New York Times, best selling business book authors, members of the Speakers’ Hall of Fame, and many more. 

Vanessa Rose

We have the pleasure of welcoming Peter Winick today to our interview series. I am Vanessa Rose from the peopleHum team. Let’s begin with just a quick introduction of peopleHum. peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and the video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.

Vanessa 

Welcome, Peter. We’re thrilled to have you.

Peter 

Oh, thank you for having me today. Thank you. 

Vanessa 

So let’s begin with the first question. 

Peter, could you please tell us something about the interesting work that you carry out at ‘Thought Leadership Leverage’? 

Peter

Sure. I mean, so our work is interesting in that we help people take ideas that they have worked on, nurtured, developed over years, sometimes decades, and help them crack the code on a strategy that enables them to get those ideas out to more people, get those ideas out in ways to generate more profit and ultimately have a greater impact. 

Vanessa

So what do you think are the key elements you look for before signing up someone for your services? What differentiates an acute thought-leader from the rest of the pack? 

Peter

Yes, I think there’s a couple of questions in there. So one is sort of defining what thought leadership is because I think it’s a term that is starting to get bounced around all over the place and diluted to some level. So there is content marketing, right? Which is great, but that’s not thought leadership. So I think, 

“Thought leadership is understanding what one is, the definition is it’s not something you should call yourself. It’s something that others in the community, colleagues, profession, sort of bestowing upon you as a sign of respect, acknowledgment for your work, etc”. 

And so that’s the first thing. And what thought leadership is, is really two elements. There’s the thought piece which is what you’re putting out there truly thoughtful. Is it something new? Is it unique? Is it based on research? Is it based on experience? 

Are you adding to the conversation in a discipline that’s already existed before you? The second piece is the leadership piece of it, because there’s a place to just sort of recap or repurpose or say what’s already been known. But… 

“The leadership piece is basically having the courage to take that conversation to a new direction, to a new place, to a new audience, to a new discipline. So that, to me, is thought leadership.” 

Going back to your question in terms of what we look for, we only work with thought leaders that have content that has a business application. So we don’t believe, well I shouldn’t say we don’t believe. We don’t do any direct to consumer. We don’t do any self help. We don’t do any sort of love and relationship. It’s not that there aren’t thought leaders in that space. That’s just not what we do. It has to have a benefit to an organizational business that is measurable. 

Vanessa

That’s interesting. 

So how do you think leaders create a win-win for everyone in that lens?

Okay, but how do they create a win-win situation like how do they get control? 

Peter

Sure. So I think through the lens of thought leadership, a win-win that leaders could take would be one, the content is beneficial to me, as an individual, as a human, right? As a person. And part of that is my job, right? But there’s other elements to who I am and great thought leadership and great content has application beyond the 9 to 5 or whatever the title is on my job. 

So I think that’s the way, so… 

“Great leaders can provide their people with content that benefits them as individuals, that benefits them as members of the team in the organization. And ultimately, members benefits the organization as well. That’s a win-win.” 

Vanessa

So it’s having content and also putting it across in a good, in a great manner. 

Peter

Yeah. It’s that. 

Vanessa

Well, what critical engagement factors are important in promoting the original content of published work? 

Peter

In promoting the content? So I think that, well, one is, and it seems obvious but I’ll say it anyway. It’s gotta be good, right? So given that we’re living in a time where information is no longer scarce, right? It used to be up until 10-15 years ago, there was a scarcity of information. Now we have the opposite problem, which brings new challenges.

We’re living in an era where there’s an abundance of information. We’re drowning in information. So if that’s the case, I don’t have the time to sit through things that aren’t good. 

And people’s bars are being raised to say, yeah, if you’re bringing something to me and I’m gonna invest five hours reading your book or 20 minutes listening to your podcast or your Ted talk, it better raise my awareness and better give me something that causes me to sort of think differently about something. 

Vanessa

So if it doesn’t add value to us anymore, we just don’t, it’s not worth the time. 

Peter

Yeah. If you look at 99.9% of what’s on YouTube or what people put on Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever, it’s not particularly relevant. It’s not particularly interesting. It’s not particularly for the cult and the things that I want. I want something that’s highly relevant to me. I want something that is really thoughtful, that gets me thinking about a problem that I’ve had every different way. I want something that’s intriguing, I want something that’s interesting, I don’t have time for the same old stuff. 

Vanessa 

Yeah. That’s a huge look. 

How important do you think marketing is in becoming a leadwork to build a great brand around the main thing in point? 

Peter 

Yeah, so I think the stark reality is that marketing is incredibly important and becoming more and more important every day because the work that I do, I’m fortunate that I get to see all sorts of amazing content in all sorts of forms, meaning it’s early, it’s finished, it’s in process, etc.

The difference, unfortunately, is not just that the ideas are great that the content is great but you have great content supported by the great market. We each get to define what great marketing is. But if you don’t have a marketing engine underneath it, it’s gonna die on your hard drive, unfortunately. So…

Vanessa

Yeah. That is the harsh truth. 

Peter

Yeah, exactly. 

Vanessa

So, with social distancing probably becoming the norm in the foreseeable future, how do you see it changing your business?

Peter

Well for our business, there isn’t that much of a change. So we used to do lots of things face to face in terms of a lot of the initial work that we do with clients. We’re now doing that remotely so we’ve made some adjustments and modifications. I mean, there’s nothing that truly replaces a face to face experience. Zoom and all the tools that we have now are far better than what we’ve had. But there is something to be said for having to deal with that with a client and spending some time and things not being so scripted. 

So we’re fortunate that there isn’t a huge direct impact. I think when you expand that question a little bit further for our clients, given that many of our clients derive a good chunk of their revenue from events from speaking and workshops and face to face, it’s a big unknown, right? So there is both a crisis and opportunity, right? 

The crisis is, if the only way that you can deliver your content is face to face in a keynoter workshop, you’re in big trouble. The flip side of that is the opportunity is right now or the trends have been for a long time moving away from face to face and out online. 

And… 

“I think one of the positives if I should say so coming out of this is, it’s just accelerating the digitization of content and the democratization of content that you’ve got to really start to sit down and think”

…how do I deliver the experience? How do I deliver the value in ways that don’t require me to be in a room? How do I use the tools? How do I break down my content into viable frameworks and models that are replicable and teachable? It requires a different amount of work. And it requires a lot of people to totally rethink the way they operate. 

Vanessa

Wow. 

So do you see a way in which people work, engage, and produce change outbound in this pandemic? 

Peter

Oh, yeah. I mean, I think there are different segments, right? So many of us have been used to working remotely or working from home or hotel rooms or you have your laptop and your device and your Internet connection and you can function. 

And this hasn’t changed that. I think there’s a huge amount of people. I don’t know what the percentage is, but typically people that either hasn’t questioned the way they do things or its organizational culture or politics or whatever the case is, they say no, you have to get on a train or in your car and be in the speed at your desk at eight in the morning and then you stay until six and whatever. And I think initially, a lot of those folks struggled with this concept of, what if I’m not in the office? I’m not working. Right?

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Providing value, creating value. Doing the work for many is more of a state of mind than a state of a physical presence. Now, that being said, there are lots of people, medical and other professions where you do need more, to do that more.

But I think it’s forcing people to question the way they’ve always done things, the way things have always been done, the culture and I think for many people they’re gonna come out of this going. you know what? I don’t want to go back to an office five days a week. Maybe I’ll go back twice a week, five times a month. Whatever the case may be. 

Vanessa

It’s changing a lot of organizations, the way everybody works. And I think this will also improve their productivity. So

Peter

Yeah. Well, I think from a productivity standpoint, I think the other thing people will realize is, wait a minute. It used to be a 12 hour day between my commute, getting into the office and getting settled. How much work was I actually doing? Now I’m able to actually get done whatever needed to be done in half of that time because I’m not dilly dallying over the coffee machine. I’m not fiddling around. When we have a zoom call, right? It’s scheduled for these eight people to be on for this 45 minutes to achieve this objective and then it’ll go on to the next thing. 

It forces the structure and it forces us to stay on point where I think when a lot of people actually think about how they spend their days in a traditional office environment, they’re gonna ask, was that meeting necessary? Did I need to be there? How much time is wasted? Oh, it’s Sally’s birthday in accounting. So we’re gonna go take a little break and wish her happy birthday. Those are lovely things to do. But from a productivity standpoint, I’m not convinced, I think the other side of that is from a social distancing perspective. 

The trend over the last 10 or 15 years is let’s get people as close as can be and sitting almost on top of each other, which I always found distracting. Like how could you be on a phone call with somebody sitting here and somebody is eating their lunch and all this other stuff? And now there is a safety component to that where I think we need to rethink what an office looks like. And how could we do that in a way that’s not putting anybody’s health in jeopardy. 

Vanessa

That is really nice. It makes a lot of sense.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to leave our viewers with? 

Peter

Any other thoughts, I mean, I think, obviously we’re living through scary times. People want to make sure that they and their loved ones are healthy. They want to make sure that financially they’re secure and they’re safe. And their jobs aren’t at risk. But I also think there’s opportunity here. There will be like any other crisis.

There will be winners and there will be losers. Right? And I think that you have to really, this forces you to rethink every part of your business process from who you serve, how you serve them, systems, processes, things that you do, how many paper do you need to detach? And I think will come out of this more effective, more efficient. 

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And I think we’ll also have high regard for human interaction and human contact. I mean, I think a lot of people are, what are they missing in the office? They are missing that social element, that going out on lunch with friends, that’s critically important, there’s a tremendous amount of loneliness, there’s a tremendous amount of boredom. All that’s going on. We have to cope with that as well. 

Vanessa

So it has positive as well as negative effects.

Peter

Yeah. One of the unknowns to me is how quickly people are going to be, to do as much business travel as they did before. For a couple of reasons. One is they’re gonna rethink is it really necessary to get on that plane, to do that thing, to go meet with these people for two or three hours. Is it worth the risk? Is it a real risk of perceived risk? Is it worth the cost? Right? We’re going into a recession. Where, is it more effective to do something in a digital way than the cost of traveling and all that? 

And I think we’re gonna probably do it a bit less. But make the most of the time that we do have when we actually face to face. I mean, there’s been so many meetings I’ve been in there face to face and like, that couldn’t have any meaning. That was a total waste of 23 peoples’ time. Though I’m gonna value that face to face time more. 

Vanessa

Wow. So true. Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure talking to you Peter. 

Peter

Great. Thank you. 

Vanessa

It’s been really an enriching experience for me and I’m sure it’ll be for our audience too. 

Peter

I hope so. Thank you for having me. Thanks. 

Vanessa

Thank you.