Dan Gardner is the New York Times best-selling author of books about psychology and decision-making and a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. More >

Freelancing

Great thought leadership can take many forms — from discussion papers to op-Eds, speeches, presentations, and social media — but it is always serious, creative, and memorable. Now think about the thought leadership you encountered in the last month or two. There was a lot of it. But how much of it could be described as serious, creative, and memorable? Right.

To be blunt, most people are not good communicators. And yes, that includes people who have “communication” in their job title. Their discussion papers read like all the other discussion papers, their speeches are forgotten when the polite clapping of the audience fades, and their op-Eds are read by nobody whose employment does not require it.

Their work does not inform. It does not cause a stir. It does not get anyone talking. It makes no difference.

There’s a reason for that. Great thought leadership requires an strong understanding of the subject matter, a deep awareness of how psychology shapes perception and thought, and the creativity to translate all this knowledge into words and images that grab eyeballs, jolt brains, and squeeze hearts.

It requires a wonk, a psychologist, and Don Draper.

That is not a description of the typical speechwriter or person with “communication” in their job title.

It does, however, fit me nicely. If you want a long and tedious summary of my what I’ve done, here you go. But if you would rather chat about how my writing or editing can elevate your discussion papers, op-Eds, speeches, presentations, or social media — how it can help you make a real difference — drop me an email.