How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown

Anecdotes Often Beat Stories. Beat the Snot Out of Them.

We’re told that anecdotes (brief retellings of incidents) are impoverished forms of communication, and stories (longer narratives with peaks and valleys and telling details and surprising twists and moments of reflection and insight) are the highest form of communication.


In a recent “The Undercover Economist” — economist and journalist Tim Harford’s reported column for the FT designed to answer questions based on the best available research — Harford asks the question “Should we take a few long holidays, or lots of short ones?”

But instead of diving into the research immediately, though, Harford begins with a humble anecdote.…

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TTLT: Presenting Science vs. Creating a Campaign

The monarch butterfly is in trouble — in large part because development is chewing up its habitat, including that of its feeding and host plants (milkweed) across North America.

Just to stabilize its population, the monarch needs an “additional 1.8 billion stems of milkweed,” according to Abigail Derby Lewis of Chicago’s Field Museum and Adele Simmons, a philanthropist, writing in a recent Chicago Tribune op-ed.

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TTLT: Disasterology is What Public Scholarship Looks Like

Disasterology is the public scholarship site of Samantha Montano, an assistant professor of emergency management & disaster science at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

It’s great. It has much of everything public scholarship should have — the bones of a one-stop shop for translating research into timely, jargon-free insights and solutions that decision makers and other non-specialists can actually apply.…

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TTLT: Data Viz Gold Standard

It’s this graphic by Vox, issued in the wake of President Trump and U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blaming the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in part on teen consumption of violent video games:

The graphic exemplifies data marshaled to shape a public conversation.…

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TTLT: Screening Sunscreen

Would you rather:

a) Read a scientist’s accessible and well-written 850-word breakdown on the evidence about whether sunscreens are harmful to us — and how we should respond?


b) Watch a four-minute video by the same scientist doing the same breakdown and giving similar advice?…

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Tuesday TL Teardown: Anti-Vaxxers & You

What separates researcher thought leadership from the kind of thought leadership everybody hates is…research, and the uniquely deep expertise that flows from being a researcher.

Saturating your thought leadership with supporting research doesn’t work. But not having any research doesn’t work, either.…

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Take Your Gloves Off

Every Tuesday, I do a TTLT — Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown — for my mailing list. Here’s my latest.

Evidence or expertise alone don’t make your ideas compelling.

You make them compelling.

“You” meaning: your voice. Your style, coupled with a strong argument and point of view.…

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