Thought Leadership Studio

FAQs on Strategic Thought Leadership Coaching and Consulting

Click to jump to: General | for Sales & Marketing Pros | for Influencers | for Entrepreneurs and Business & Organizational Leaders | for Coaches & Consultants

The Thought Leadership program helped transform our messaging in the marketing and sales process. By structuring the conversation about next level up values we were able to talk about the big picture of the organization and how our service helps support that. - John Mulvey, founder Digitalecho.io

Chris and his team have done a remarkable job for us that has resulted in a significant increase in customer leads. - Daniel Mahoney, Senior Partner, Broadmoor Business Consultants

General FAQs

What is this for?

That is a very general question, but this is the "General" section so I suppose I should have expected that. For the clearest answer, though, I suggest clicking one of the specific categories. But, while you are here, in General, think of it this way: I approach this like I am training an Olympic level athlete or team. Except the competition I train you for is winning the hearts and minds of a growing market segment or audience. As would be the case with the athlete or athletic team, much of the focus is on the head game since that is where the leverage for fast, breakthrough results is.

There is both External and Internal Strategic Thought Leadership.

In External Strategic Thought Leadership, the game is building a Thought Leadership Model and leading an audience from their current thinking about what you do, offer, sell, or your field or profession to the new, better perspective your Thought Leadership Model offers. By embracing it, they get the benefits of more clarity, understanding, empowerment, ability to extract value, skill, and/or make better buying decisions in that area. And you get an appreciative, loyal audience... an audience with a high likelihood of deeper engagement like sales and referrals. It's quite a powerful dynamic and, I am convinced, the absolute best way to market and lead.

With Internal Strategic Thought Leadership, the focus is more on developing the Thought Leader or Thought Leading Team. The outcome is feeling fully aligned, in control, focused, and confident with mastery in the 3 key perspectives of Insight, Inspiration, and Impact. You can click here to learn more about those 3 perspectives, each of which includes skills at progressively higher levels. I like to set things up for a fast experience of success for clients to build confidence right out of the gate.

So, sometimes it's about facilitating a successful Strategic Thought Leadership based marketing project that requires some knowledge and skill building... but, the focus is on getting a successful project done.

Other times, it's more about coaching an individual or team to high level skills as they take more responsibility for generating and implementing their own Strategic Thought Leadership, which can also be an authentic path of intrinsically rewarding self-mastery.

Since every client and project is different, I stay flexible in my ability to pivot between the Coach and Consultant roles.

Who does this?

Chris McNeil. You can read my bio here. Also, this answer (further down on this page) explains how my credentials, training, and background are uniquely relevant and distinctive for this purpose.

New Client Questionnaire Thumbnail

Review Coaching-Consulting-Project New Client Questionnaire

Want to know more about what to expect and how it works? Click here to read, download or print the pdf of the New Client Intake Questionnaire. Page 1 is public and members can access the entire 5-page document.

This is expensive- how many sessions will it take?

That depends on you or your organization and what you want to achieve. I can't predict that without more information, so that is one of the reasons I give a money-back guarantee on the first session at the halfway point. 30 minutes is enough time to breadbox your goals or project between us: what you can expect to accomplish, what length of time it will take, how many sessions, and what the game plan for getting there will be. If the investment isn't a fit for you for any reason, you can opt out at that point - no questions asked - and get a full refund for the session. Consider this before we meet, though: While I don't rule out an ongoing coaching/consultation relationship (which would likely be either weekly or monthly), in most cases, I aim for a fast intervention that can bring a radical jump in results and performance quickly.

How do you justify your exorbitant hourly rate?

My first question would be "compared to whom?". If I recall correctly, Jay Abraham and Tony Robbins both charge $5000 an hour, so this is a relative bargain compared to them. In order to fulfill my role as the most perfectly optimized vehicle for maximizing potential I can be in the area of Strategic Thought Leadership, I have to work on my skills and self mastery for at least a bare minimum of 2 hours a day. This level of coaching is like being a performing world class Jazz Musician. No matter what your passion or natural talent is, it still takes a critical mass of time for rehearsing and fine tuning high-level skills. And, in this case, also time to reflect to leave space open for the insights that can be high-impact turning points in projects. Every relationship and project takes brain space so I have to limit my clientele in order to be maximally effective and my fee allows for that.

So what kinds of skills, you ask? I have a high level mastery of Neuro-Linguistics, having trained with many leaders, including one of the co-founders of the field. I also have relevant skills and knowledge in Systems Thinking, Game Theory, and Entrepreneurship. Maybe most importantly, I bring vast experience with the performance coaching dynamic- in my former career as first a trainer, then an entrepreneur in personal fitness, for decades I successfully coached thousands of people: either directly in the earlier days, or later through other trainers I trained in using the motivation/behavior modification model I developed which incorporated NLP and Sports Psychology methods. I have also demonstrated my capacity for innovative thinking by writing web apps for my fitness training business that won 2 national awards and 1 regional award for innovation.

The innovation awards I won gave exposure enabling selling my fitness studios to transition to custom software-supported online marketing for various corporate clients. For a decade, I applied various models and used NLP to model the underlying structure of online marketing, drilling down to the core essence of what made certain companies and campaigns stand out with dramatic lead generation and sales results while most others just spun their wheels, usually due to being stuck in old models of marketing and advertising. This led to many breakthroughs in marketing, sales, and market share growth for clients and it also led to the development of the Thaut Process of Strategic Thought Leadership and my revelation that the Coaching-Consulting format is the ideal way to bring it to either a company or individual.

That was a joyous revelation because this is my passion and it leverages a lifetime of practice and immersive learning into what seems to me to be a unique skillset that can make the difference for you. So, sure, I'll toss away any pretense at false modesty by saying that if you are in the right position and ready to make a breakthrough in any area Strategic Thought Leadership can help, working with me is a great value.

Whew... That was way too much about me.

This is about YOU- I am just your instrument of achievement and self-mastery, so knowing enough about my skills, beliefs and purpose is just to help you ramp up your expectation of success. As is my fee: it is enough that you should expect to get the awesome results you deserve. It is also designed to be enough of a sacrifice to ensure you are motivated and committed to extracting the maximum value from our work together. That's great for both of us.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

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Why aren't you offering a free consultation?

There's are five reasons.
  1. Since I can only take a relatively small number of clients with this model, I am limiting myself to the very most motivated.
  2. I am further separating myself from other coaches and consultants with a completely different initiation proposition.
  3. I don't want to play the consultants' game of "I'll tell you your problems I can help with but withhold the solutions until you pay me". Instead, from the very first moment, I'll be focused on doing everything I can for you with every minute we work together.
  4. Your risk is managed in a different and, I think, better way with a money-back guarantee on the first session at the halfway point. If everything doesn't feel great for moving forward at that point, you can opt out and get 100% of your money back.
  5. The time and resources I save by not doing free consultations can be put to better use in developing myself as the best instrument possible for your success.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

Of the many professionals I've had the pleasure of working with over the years, Chris is easily the most skilled at detecting trends, working with his clients to intersect major opportunities in the marketplace, and developing communications and marketing strategies that realize those opportunities. Added to his success as a business owner ...Simply nobody better, in my honest opinion, than Chris to pioneer such important and (literally) influential work." - Boyd Stough / Founder / Espy Revenue

Sales and Marketing Pros

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I am in an Agency that uses end-user data targeting- Why should this matter to me, my agency, and my clients?

For one thing, you or your clients might be noticing the writing on the wall, where even the New York Times is talking about the pushback against data-targeting the end user. And, when you take the point of view of the end user with empathy, as I have with Thaut's Audience Attunement listening research, you might also wonder "What, specifically, is it that makes some believe that customers aren't turned off by invasive marketing?"

I have been in your shoes to some degree in the past, so I relate to your dilemma. In order to be able to help you, I need permission to respectfully challenge some entrenched paradigms you have likely bought into. So, at least for the sake of having temporarily considered an alternative point of view that could hold the potential for a breakthrough, please suspend your beliefs systems just long enough to take in the rest of my answer ... and notice any resistance you have might also represent opportunity. Maybe our largest jumps forward come from outside our habitual frames of reference. Leverage points found with Systems Thinking - places where small efforts creates big, positive results - are usually counterintuitive.

Following customers with ads gives them a distaste for a brand because they know they are being studied and treated as objects, as I personally discovered when shopping for subwoofers. Do you want your clients' brands to create a negative response in prospects? Conversely, putting the end users' needs first by listening to and serving their learning needs about what you sell gives them positive feelings about a brand. Doesn't that make you feel better about your customers' brands and your brand, too?

When you step back and look at the larger system, you see how the internet "cycle of life" is interrupted by invasive marketing like when an invasive species collapses a natural ecosystem. It's the end user customers who pay the rent for the companies who pay the rent for the advertiser. And those end user customers don't like being followed around the web or having their data harvested to be targeted. It's far more ecological to serve the end customer with helpful thought leadership that empowers them to get more value and make smarter decisions.

That said, it is my hope that we can look at how to reallocate the tech that has been used to target customers for a new purpose of respectfully listening to their values, wants, and needs instead ... in a non-invasive, non privacy-threatening way. And I do realize that targeted ads get some results, in a brute force kind of way. There's just that small issue of the collateral damage of lost good will, though. So, if a client company is deep in that culture, consider I have recommended starting to build in Strategic Thought Leadership with a portion of the budget- maybe around 10% to 25% - so they feel their perceived risk is managed. Then let them see the difference as these more organically generated inbound leads, shown over a decade ago in research by Hubspot to cost 62% less than outbound leads, start to roll in at lower cost and with a higher conversion rate because the thought leadership has empowered their prospects to see their distinctive differences already.

Having written the above, I should also point out that the persuasive supporting arguments, AKA talking points for a Thought Leadership Position, play well in the paid ad world as well, increasing the conversion rate sometimes quite dramatically. And, of course, by targeting with context instead of individual user data, you can avoid invading user privacy while utilizing Strategic Thought Leadership in paid placement to accelerate the lead flow.

If you still aren't ready to take such a leap of faith from the world you've gotten used to, if nothing else, I recommend exploring what I teach and coach through my free media to begin to hedge in case the constrictions around the throat of end-user targeted advertising caused by what seems to be at least some people feeling their privacy is invaded grows even tighter and heavier.

Gradually building Strategic Thought Leadership capabilities as a concurrent side project could perhaps give you the relief of multiple options for online lead and sales generation as the landscape continues to change.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

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I am in an authority marketing agency so we already work with our clients on thought leadership. What will this do for us?

I can empower your agency to succeed at an even higher level with the building blocks of Strategic Thought Leadership that I and some close associates have taken years to build, drawing from multiple fields of relevant, specialized knowledge including Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). As I write this, I don't know about your agency, but many promote showing their clients' expertise as building thought leadership. With all respect, however, showing expertise isn't necessarily leading the audience to get more of what is important to them out of what you are helping them sell, elevate it to a higher purpose, or make a smarter buying decision ... and those are what add value. In the Strategic Thought Leadership model, it isn't simply about showing what you know, it's about empowering your audience to get more out of what you offer.

If you only demonstrate your clients' expertise, you might help them look smart but their prospective audiences may not care. Working from a structure to move audience thinking on levels higher than knowledge has an impact you and they can't miss.

Building a robust thought leadership model is like building a house where the foundation, the structure needs to be complete. Just sharing knowledge is like the paint on the house. It looks nice but doesn't go deep.

Strategic Thought Leadership has building blocks largely derived from:

  • NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) which offers ways to see how the structure of language reveals audience mental models and values, then build influence models to help an audience better fulfill those higher values with a new mental model (Thought Leadership Position) defined structurally,
  • Systems Thinking, which provides ways of influencing a system - like an audience or market segment - with system dynamics to get more change with less effort,
  • Game Theory, which, in part, helps align with who we want to and choose our battles when we are changing paradigms that might offend the "keepers of the guard" who are invested in the old way of thinking, and
  • Mythic Archetypes, which, like George Lucas did with Star Wars by modeling the pattern of the "Hero's Journey" mythic structure he learned from Joseph Campbell's work, build emotional power in a message by evoking what Jung called "Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious" ... figures and story lines embedded in the "deep mind" that evoke powerful feelings and help draw an audience in and inspire them.

My decision to work on Strategic Thought Leadership in the capacity of coach and consultant means I am not positioning what I offer as a competitive agency. Instead, if it is a fit to work together, I can be on your side, supporting invisibly from the background, helping you add more value to your clients by coaching and consulting with you and your team on the areas of deep expertise that have shown to be the difference that makes the difference in multiple breakthrough marketing case studies.

New Client Questionnaire Thumbnail

Review Coaching-Consulting-Project New Client Questionnaire

Want to know more about what to expect and how it works? Click here to read, download or print the pdf of the New Client Intake Questionnaire. Page 1 is public and members can access the entire 5-page document.

I am a salesperson. So what does this mean to me?

It means you can make more sales through higher quality leads that convert at a higher rate by using Strategic Thought Leadership to set the company or companies you represent, or yourself, apart from your competition in ways that are meaningful to your best potential customers.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

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Influencers

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I am an online influencer. So what does this mean to me?

To be an influencer implies having a high level of influence skills. I can help you with that, as a Strategic Thought Leadership Coach and Consultant. My background in NLP is especially helpful, including as it does language patterns of high-level influence, high-level learning, and multiple-level communication. And, as an influencer, I feel there's no better way to build your own brand than to have a strong Strategic Thought Leadership Position that articulates what you do for your audience in ways that connect with their higher values.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

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Chris and his team have done a remarkable job for us that has resulted in a significant increase in customer leads. -

Daniel Mahoney, Senior Partner, Broadmoor Business Consultants

Entrepreneurs and Business & Organizational Leaders

I Am Used to Using Agencies for Marketing. Why Are You Doing This With Coaching (Coaching-Consulting, Whatever) Instead of via an Agency?

Great Agencies and Agency People are Awesome with a capital "A". Yet I have discovered strong reasons you will want to work on Strategic Thought Leadership with a Coach in a totally separate role.
  1. You are the source of your Thought Leadership, not the agency. If the source of the thought leading ideas is purely an external agency, the smarter-than-some-give-them-credit-for marketplace will smell the difference right away and likely not buy in.
  2. That said, I've found that, while nearly every leader I have worked with has Thought Leadership Position worthy product or service innovations, distinctive ways of empowering customers, and/or unique relationships with the marketplace or customers, most have not learned to fully recognize that and package their unique angles into a robust and sticky model that can move a market segment or audience. I can help with that.
  3. YOU are your greatest resource and investing in yourself will pay the greatest return. This will include increasing your Insight, Inspiration, and Impact. I don't mean this in a remedial way, I mean taking the best and making it even better.
  4. At least many leaders perceive the agency as a hierarchical role and information does not flow in a hierarchy. That information needs to flow so we can discover audience insights that open opportunities.
  5. We also need a non-hierarchical relationship so I can best draw out your hidden potential and help you direct it towards effectively influencing a marketplace or audience to see what you offer as absolutely distinctive and separate from the rest.
  6. You won't have to worry about any financial incentive because of the payoff from this campaign vs. that one swaying the advice I give you. The coach-consultant role removes that possibility.
  7. You likely have internal resources in yourself or your company that can be harvested to your advantage to do some of what an agency might not be able to do as well.
  8. I can give you a 3rd party, informed perspective on how to maximize your results with an agency you choose, are already working with, or ask me to recommend.
  9. If you are my client, you have my promise that I will take no payback from an agency for recommending them to you, so you know it is purely because I see them as the right fit.
  10. If your focus is marketing results, I am very fond of multiple pillar lead generation strategies both inside and outside the Strategic Thought Leadership context, many of which can be put to work as extra streams for you without requiring agency resources.
  11. I can help you get the most out of any agency you work with because I have also lived that world and know what can and can't be done from their perspective.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

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Coaches & Consultants

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I do Executive Coaching. How can this help me help my clients?

Awesome! First, high-level coaches usually have their own high-level coaches. It's a lot to stay on top of our game and having a "meta coach" can also help combat the "empathy fatigue" coaches of all kinds are susceptible to. Second, the specialized knowledge, skills, beliefs, and identity of Strategic Thought Leadership have a lot of application in leadership in general. When we lead, is it not usually to a specific position or way of thinking? So these tools will apply. And you may want to separate yourself from other executive coaches with your own, well-formed Thought Leadership Position as well.

Ready to schedule yet? Click here to set up the money-back guaranteed first session.

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Chris McNeil

New Client Questionnaire Thumbnail

Review Coaching-Consulting-Project New Client Questionnaire

Want to know more about what to expect and how it works? Click here to read, download or print the pdf of the New Client Intake Questionnaire. Page 1 is public and members can access the entire 5-page document.

Strategic Thought Leadership Coaching and Consulting

Such an amazing and creative way to help figure out how to make what you do and what you want to give and share with the world successfully. Chris and his team have thoughtfully and creatively created something really unique to help people market themselves and their brand better, so that they can reach the people they want to reach and beyond. - Kimi Hugli

I learned so much and I now have a whole new perspective on how to put my business out there in a way that draws exactly the right clients.-Dianne Shaver, Pitch U, The Art of the Pitch

Of the many professionals I've had the pleasure of working with over the years, Chris is easily the most skilled at detecting trends, working with his clients to intersect major opportunities in the marketplace, and developing communications and marketing strategies that realize those opportunities. Added to his success as a business owner ...Simply nobody better, in my honest opinion, than Chris to pioneer such important and (literally) influential work." - Boyd Stough / Founder / Espy Revenue

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