IP Creation Projects for Thought Leaders

IP Creation Projects for Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders make money from their ideas. Naturally, this means you must create IP or Intellectual Property to have something to sell. It also means the quality of your IP creation will have a big say in how much money you earn and what level of influence you have.

But ideas are like the operating system in our phones and computers. When they get old and outdated, they begin to cause more problems than they solve. We do need to update our ideas regularly. Also, we need to do a major overhaul every now and then.

IP creation is an essential activity for thought leaders. But what’s the best way to do it? 

In this post, I’ll share:

  • A quick way to determine if you need IP creation right now
  • Two basic approaches to IP creation
  • Three modes of IP creation
  • Nine different types of IP creation projects
  • Five tips to help you decide which type of IP creation project you should start

Self-Assessment: How current is your IP?

Your IP Creation Needs

Let’s start by asking the all-important question: What is your need for IP creation right now?

In other words, how current is your IP or set of ideas?

This will come down to how much and the type of IP creation you have done recently. You’ll likely be in one of three places. 

  1. No IP creation for a while – If you’ve done little or nothing then it’s likely you are falling behind.
  2. A few updates – If you have done a handful of little updates to your IP, then it’s likely you are keeping up.  
  3. Completed a big overhaul – If you have created a new version of your IP recently, then you may have leapt ahead of your competition.

Are you falling behind, keeping up or leaping ahead?

Two approaches to IP Creation for Thought Leaders 

There are two basic approaches to IP creation.

  1. You either build a habit around it and work on it each day.
  2. Or you can design an IP Creation project.

Two approaches to IP Creation

My preference is to work on projects because:

  1. A project is not forever – it has a specific start and endpoint.
  2. Projects provide a specific focus.
  3. Ideally, they provide a distinct result.
  4. You also then have a stronger motivation around building habits because it can lead to a bigger result. For instance, I will write for 30 minutes each day because this will lead to publishing a book.

I spoke more about Projects and Habits in the post The Four Levels of Purpose.

Three IP Creation Modes

In this post, we are going to talk about nine types of IP Creation projects for Thought Leaders. These projects fit into three different modes of operation.

1 Learn

The first IP creation mode is to learn. Learning is all about gaining a different perspective. We can either learn from someone or we can learn by ourselves.

2 Teach

The second IP creation mode is to teach. Teaching is all about refining and sharing what you know.

Three IP Creation Modes

It’s a great way to build influence and earn money. This is an important point. Your IP creation doesn’t require shutting down your business to work on something big. Instead, a smart way to do this is to look for ways to incorporate your learning and IP creation into your business in ways that can also build your level of influence and ideally earn you money. Teaching what you know can achieve both.

For example, I did this when I ran my book summary service, Book Rapper. I was learning from leading business thinkers by reading their books and redesigning them into a summary service that I was able to sell to subscribers. 

3 Discover

The third IP creation mode is to discover. This is likely to be the deepest level of IP creation. The goal here is not simply to share what we know, but to learn something new for ourselves and for other people. You might consider this to be your personal PhD where the goal is to create an original or new idea or framework.

Let’s now look at each of these IP Creation modes in more detail. And as you read each one, start to consider, what sort of IP creation project you would like to tackle.

Learning Projects

Our first IP creation mode is to learn. There are three types of Learning projects that all focus on collecting, gaining and extracting ideas, insights, and information in different ways.

Three Types of Learning Projects

1 Interact

The first way to learn is to interact. The most common example of this is in school or in a training program. We find a teacher, a course, we attend classes, and we learn from other people. Essentially this is a two-way learning path – you listen, you talk, and you interact with a teacher, a mentor or a coach.

2 Consume

The second way to learn is to consume. This includes reading books, reading blog post articles like this one, watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts and watching documentaries. Essentially, we’re still learning from other people but you’re not interacting with them. This is a one-way learning path.

3 Reflect

The third way to learn is to reflect. In my view, self-reflection is underrated for the value it provides. It’s also free to do anytime and anywhere, you oversee your own learning, and you can make this a regular habit. This can be as simple as writing in a journal each day about your work experiences and drawing out lessons or strategies. I do this at the end of each day – it only takes a few minutes to stop and review my day.

Teaching Projects

Our second IP creation mode is to teach. In contrast to our learning projects that are all about absorbing ideas, teaching is all about sharing them.

There’s an old saying that suggests if you really want to learn something, then you need to teach it.

Three Types of Teaching Projects

When we present our ideas, it forces us to refine them in a way that other people can grasp them easily. Plus, depending upon our mode of teaching we are likely to gain valuable feedback. And as I said previously, teaching is a great way to earn some money and build our level of influence.

The three types of teaching projects are:

1 Present

The first way to teach is to present. This is the opposite side of the desk to our learning example in a classroom. This time you are leading the conversation. This could be to a live audience as in a keynote or conference presentation or it might be virtual on zoom or recorded like what I’m doing here in this video. It might be to a small audience of one person in a coaching session, to a small group or to hundreds of people.

2 Publish

The second way to teach is to publish. Publishing can include writing a book, posting on LinkedIn, a podcast, a video like this on YouTube or a blog or social media post. It also includes any type of information product. Publishing is all about taking the time to think through your idea in a considered way. In contrast to presenting to a live audience, your publishing efforts are less likely to give you the same level of feedback.

For more on this, we talked about this in the post, Thought Leadership Content Marketing.

3 Converse

The third way to teach is to converse, or to have conversations and interactions with other people. This could be formal as in a coaching session, in a podcast interview or informal over a coffee with your colleagues. It might also be one-on-one or in small groups such as in a mastermind group. You might present something and then discuss it, or you might simply discuss it and see where the conversation leads to. The key goal here is interaction and gaining feedback.

Discovery Projects

Our third IP creation mode is to discover. The aim here is to come up with new knowledge. To achieve this requires a deeper set of activities. There are three types of discovery projects.

1 Achieve

The first way to discover something new is to take on a project to achieve a particular result.

For instance, this might be to run a marathon. And from your experience of training and completing your marathon, you discover insights that you can share with your clients. While they might not be into running you can still share insights about preparation, mindsets, resilience, nutrition and energy management.

Three Types of Discovery Projects

In my opinion, too few thought leaders use this approach to IP creation. Instead, they tend to share book knowledge – stuff they’ve read. While that is valuable it can also be conceptual and abstract rather than practical and action-oriented. There is something very powerful about saying, ‘I have done this.’ This boosts your confidence and credibility in the eyes of others.

The other big advantage here is that you grow as a person through overcoming the obstacles to reach your goal. For example, if you had to lead a team or collaborate with others to achieve your goal, then you’ll have a rich set of stories to share with potential clients in the future.

2 Build

The second way to discover something is to build something.

This is a more specific example of an achievement where you have something to show for your efforts. While running a marathon may result in a trophy, that’s not the same as building a billion-dollar business or inventing a new super-wonder gizmo.

Like the achievement project, you can share what you have learnt from the process and experience of creating something. Ideally, this will include how you did it and the obstacles you had to overcome. Plus, if you’ve built something you might then be able to sell it.  

3 Model

The third way to discover something is through a mapping or modelling process. 

This would typically involve collecting a variety of viewpoints that you distil into a new understanding. This might be from reading lots of books on a particular topic, interviewing experts, doing surveys or a combination of these. The critical part here is to find the patterns or threads that connect ideas in new ways such that you finish up with a fresh way of looking at the world.

Which IP Creation Project is right for you?

Now for the big question: Which IP creation project is right for you? While I can’t give you personalised suggestions in this post about what specific project to create, I can offer these five general principles to consider.

1 Big or Small

If you want a small project, the learning area is easiest. You can start doing self-reflection right now simply by pausing this video to consider the thought rumbling around in your head. Likewise, signing up to a course or a regular habit of consuming content are easy steps. Typically, a discovery project is going to the biggest of the three types of projects.

2 Money and Influence

If you want to earn money and build your influence while you do IP creation, then a teaching project is for you. This will force you to define your IP in advance and then your audience interactions will help you refine it. Remember, creating products and publishing content is a form of teaching too.

3 A Signature or Heroic Project

The biggest project you can take on is one that shapes your identity – a signature or heroic project. This could be a teaching project but is more likely to be a discovery project where you put all of your energy into one defining quest. I spoke more about Heroic Projects in the post The Four Levels of Purpose.

4 Overlap

The good news is the likely overlap of benefits and modes in any large project. For instance, my current learning project is sharing YouTube videos includes the goal of attracting one million views over two years (that’s an achievement project). It also includes teaching through presenting and publishing content. Further, I need to learn how to create videos and SEO which I’m doing through consuming other people’s courses. Plus, I have a buddy that I talk with each week about this (Thanks Philippe!).

5 The Most Important thing

The most important thing of all for thought leaders is that you need to be continually working on your IP creation to avoid falling behind. At the least, you can say that today you have read this post, which might help spark some ideas for you.

The value of your IP as a Thought Leader

Summary: IP Creation Projects for Thought Leaders 

Let’s wrap up what we’ve covered here then we’ll go through how to pick the right project for you.  

  • IP Creation Projects for Thought Leaders is a powerful way to avoid falling behind with our content.  
  • At the least, we want to keep up and even better we want to leap ahead of our competitors.
  • There are three IP Creation modes: learn, teach and discover.
  • And inside each of these modes, we have three types of projects.
  • Learning mode includes having interactions with others, consuming content and personal reflection.
  • The teaching mode includes having to present, publishing and conversing.
  • Discovery mode includes an achievement project, a building project and a modelling project.

And a final point, as a thought leader your potential to earn money and influence others depends upon the quality, currency and relevancy of your IP.

More on IP Creation Projects for Thought Leaders

If you want more on IP Creation for Thought Leaders you might consider these posts:


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