Learning Is The Foundation Of Blockbuster Writing


The value chain is one of the most fundamental business mental models.

Originally coined by Harvard researcher Michael Porter, the value chain breaks down the product development and sales process into small steps based on the value that was added. The steps cover everything from the minerals being dug up from the Earth to a product in the customer's hands.

Below is a traditional value chain for a physical product:


Businesses use this model to understand the broader competitive terrain and choose where they want to focus so they can have a lasting competitive advantage.

Given its power, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what the value chain for thought leaders looks like. After lots of brainstorming and road-testing, here's what I've come up with...

Introducing The Thought Leader Value Chain


Here are a few examples of how this model helps us understand the world of thought leaders...

  • Summarizers. Specialize in contextualization. Includes book summaries (Four Minute Books), podcast summaries (Podcast Notes), and even course summaries (MasterWiki).
  • Marketers. Specialize in creating funnels and monetizing. This includes Internet info marketers.
  • Blockbuster. Specialize in combining disparate ideas into Trademark Ideas. I explain why I chose to specialize here in Blockbuster: The #1 Mental Model For Writers Who Want To Create High-Quality, Viral Content.
  • Growth Hackers. Specialize in publishing by finding growth hacks on various platforms.
  • Connectors. Specialize in finding surprising connections between ideas. One of my favorite connectors is Maria Popova (creator of Brain Pickings).
  • Craft Innovators. Specialize in creating new formats by combining visuals, text, video, lengths, and user interfaces into compelling content. One of my favorite craft innovators is Jack Butcher of Visualize Value.

Now that you understand the model, the question becomes, how do you use it to become a better thought leader? Here's what I recommend...

First, Learn How To Learn


The steps of the thought leadership value chain build upon each other. As a result, when you specialize, you still need to become competent in other steps.

For example, great ideas don't come out of nowhere. They typically come by combining smaller ideas. To get the smaller ideas, you need to have gotten unique information by learning from your experiences or other people's experiences.

Therefore, if you're just getting started, learn how to learn. Then, learn how to think. Then, learn how to share your ideas.

To help you learn fast, I created a free five-lesson course.

Each of the five lessons took me over 50 hours to research and write, and is based on my experience reading over 2,000 books, building multiple 7-figure businesses, and teaching thousands of students how to learn faster. Each lesson comes with a summary video and free worksheet to help you apply the lesson. Get the free learning how to learn course >>

Then, Specialize

Trying to become world-class at all of the steps is incredibly difficult. First, it takes a long-time to acquire the skills. Second, the world of thought leadership is constantly changing so keeping up-to-date on all 12 steps is a tall order. If you specialize, you will be successful more rapidly.

There are examples of thought leaders who are successful at almost all of the stages. So, the question isn't which path is best overall. Rather, the question is, what's best for you. I've chosen to specialize in Blockbuster writing, and I explain why in Blockbuster: The #1 Mental Model For Writers Who Want To Create High-Quality, Viral Content.