5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry, With Sahara Rose De Vore

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Becoming a thought leader can bring a lot of good to your career path. It can help your business grow or attract lucrative opportunities. Forming your own authentic ideas and messaging sets you apart from others and can help you reach your target audience or grow a following that is beneficial to your overall success. It’s completely worthwhile to invest resources and energy into becoming a thought leader. You can’t get there alone and you don’t know what you don’t know. Learn from others who have paved a path of their own. Fill your mind with information and be inspired. Try different things and see what works best for you. Every thought leader’s path is unique to them but you have to start somewhere.

As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sahara Rose De Vore.

Sahara Rose De Vore is an Intuitive Wellness Travel Coach and the founder of The Travel Coach Network. She applies her signature Travel Coach Approach in her Thrive Through Travel Initiative to help companies improve their corporate wellness and business travel programs. After receiving a BA in Hospitality and Tourism, she spent a decade traveling the globe to over 80 countries. Sahara Rose is a published author and has been seen in various media outlets including Thrive Global, Hospitality Net, Forbes, Skift, Yahoo! Finance, Corporate Wellness Magazine, and Business Insider. She is a speaker for the Global Business Travel Association and the Assistant Director of the Global Workplace Wellness Summit 2020. Sahara Rose was a 2019 nominee for career-changing women in the travel industry organization WINit for rising female leader, best female coach, and best innovative trailblazer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Growing up an only child to a single mom, I kept to myself often. I lived in a world within my introverted self yet, a piece of me was curious to see what else existed out there in this big ole’ world. We didn’t have much money, just enough to have food on the table for dinner every night. My mom struggled to provide me with everything that I ever needed in which I learned early on not to ask for much.

When I opened magazines and watched movies, I saw these beautiful places around the world that made me awe struck. I envisioned myself in those places floating in the crystal blue sea, exploring in the lush green jungle, wandering throughout a golden temple, and boating to remote islands but, I wasn’t rich. I always had the notion that only rich people traveled the world and could live a life of such wanderlust so I kept my travel dreams in journal, never to actually take seriously.

I was never the type of person who knew exactly what I wanted to do in life. I didn’t know what my career path was unlike most of my friends and classmates. I wasn’t laser-focused on studies to be a doctor, nurse, teacher, engineer, or lawyer. I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I just knew that I wanted to do something different, something great, and something that made me happy. What that was, I had no clue.

It wasn’t until my third year of university when I decided to act on my lust for travel. I enrolled in a hospitality and tourism program to figure what I wanted to do with my life. Envious of the travel experiences of the foreign exchange students in my class and my professor’s long list of countries he had visited, I made a promise to myself that I was going to figure out a way to turn my travel dreams in my travel reality.

Problem was, I was a broke college student struggling to pay my $1,000 a month rent. I didn’t care though. Upon graduating, I had hoped to find a job that suited my travel goals but, unfortunately I didn’t. In 2010, the travel and hospitality industry wasn’t as generous for employees looking for remote or extensive travel opportunities like companies are offering now. I refused to give in to society and family pressure to figure out my life path after receiving my degree. Something in me felt empty. I felt lost and confused. I needed answers. To what? I didn’t know but, I was going to figure it out.

I decided to pack a bag and set off to explore the world to find whatever it was in life that I was looking for. Being an introvert and dealing with an anxiety disorder, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was terrified yet excited. I gave myself time to figure things out and off I went.

I spent over a decade traveling during a prime time for the travel industry and the internet. I went from traveling with a flip phone and asking for directions to experiencing hands on the shifts in travel technology and social media. Not only was I seeing parts of the world that I had only dreamed of but, I was learning a lot about myself, what I wanted out of life, what kind of lifestyle I want, why others traveled, what traveling meant to myself and to other people, what trends stuck and which failed, what travel-related innovation was popular and what wasn’t, what people wanted out of a career, and what companies were failing to offer in terms of suiting people’s travel desires.

Although I was engulfed in a world of rising digital nomads, remote workers, and social media influencers, I didn’t find anything that really sung to me. I didn’t want to be a travel agent or work for a company that paid me to travel for business or be a struggling blogger or freelancer, I wanted more. I knew that my travel experiences were unique and my perspective was different. I wanted to find a way to use all that I knew and loved about traveling and the industry and pave a path for myself that aligned my passion for travel and my love of helping others.

That’s when I dove head first into starting a business. I learned everything that I could from the online world, mentors, coaches, YouTube, free webinars, articles, and research on starting a business and on the travel industry. I created what I was looking for so long and what I knew others were looking for but didn’t know existed. I became a travel coach. I founded The Travel Coach Network to not only help others figure out their own voice and niche in the industry that was authentic to them but also to help companies change the way that they used and viewed travel to improve wellbeing in and out of the workplace.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

I am a prime example of taking what feels right to you, your personal experiences, your unique perspective, your passion, and your purpose and carving a path that makes a difference in the lives of others. I am building a platform from complete scratch that took me years of experience and research. I took all of the elements of what I wanted out of a career, what I knew didn’t exist, the problems and voids in an industry that I was passionate about, and always followed my heart to help others in the best and more important way that I could. To build a following, gain attention, and receive such positive feedback on your thought leadership is a reassuring feeling that you’re truly making a difference in a big way.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Within the first year of starting my business, I was invited to be a guest speaker for the Global Workplace Wellness virtual summit. The founder of the summit really liked my vibe and my mission for improving corporate wellness through my Thrive Through Travel Initiative that she offered me to be her assistant director and co-coordinator of the Global Workplace Wellness live summit in 2020. It is a massive role that is extremely exciting but stands out to me because it stemmed from her interest in my unique approach that I developed from my personal experiences, passion, and perspective.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake that I made when first starting my career was to think that I could do it alone. Since I am an only child and a solo traveler, I am used to taking everything on by myself. Traveling made me a great problem-solver and being an only child forced me to always have to figure things out on my own. That doesn’t quite work well when starting and running a business though. There comes a point in your business career when you need help. Whether that is guidance and support from mentors and coaches or building a team to help you, or better yet both, you can’t do it alone. Trying to take on everything on your own, especially when your business takes of quicker than you expect, can lead you to hitting a wall prohibiting you from moving forward effectively. I soon realized that the more that I asked for help and guidance and the sooner I put together a team, the more my mindset improved and my stress levels decreased. As a business owner, you need to learn how to delegate and build a team that plays to everyone’s strengths. Don’t make the mistake of taking on such a big endeavor by yourself if you plan to succeed and scale to the levels that you dream of.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

A thought leader is a creative mind that makes a difference in the lives of others in their own unique way. Their ideas, messaging, and mission stems from a place of passion, personal experiences, and their own perspective. Different from a typical leader, a thought leader is an authentic change-maker who doesn’t mold their views or messaging to fit anyone else’s. A typical leader is usually trained whereas a thought leader is inspired by passion, which cannot be taught. Typical leaders lead people in a way that is expected or suggest to them. On the other hand, thought leaders don’t mind standing alone and resonating with those who best relate to their ideas. As for an influencer, they differ from a thought leader in a sense that they too mold their messaging and perspective to suit the brands or companies that they are trying to attract. Influencers want to grow their following as much as they can, including everyone that they can, whereas thought leaders want to attract those who resonate best with their messaging and mission.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

Becoming a thought leader can bring a lot of good to your career path. It can help your business grow or attract lucrative opportunities. Forming your own authentic ideas and messaging sets you apart from others and can help you reach your target audience or grow a following that is beneficial to your overall success. It’s completely worthwhile to invest resources and energy into becoming a thought leader. You can’t get there alone and you don’t know what you don’t know. Learn from others who have paved a path of their own. Fill your mind with information and be inspired. Try different things and see what works best for you. Every thought leader’s path is unique to them but you have to start somewhere.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

Whether you work for someone else or have your own business, you want to stand out among competition. You want to grow a genuine following that can relate to you. Having a unique point-of-view enables you to reach those who want to learn from and buy from you in particular. You want to be different and cause disruption. Disruption is what gets people’s attention. It can polarize people and it will attract others. It will make people say “hmm?” and be curious for more. If you work for a company, let your ideas set you apart from others. If you have your own business, your ideas are what formulate your brand, messaging, audience, and ultimately are what will attract opportunities. Industries are always looking to grow to be even better than before. They are seeking innovators who bring something new to the table. Being a thought leader can attract lucrative opportunities from companies looking to integrate what you have to offer into their business model or mission.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

Becoming a thought leader means that you have to have passion about something. Five strategies that a person can implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry include:

  1. Tapping into your personal story and figuring out how your personal experiences have shaped your perspective.
  2. Identifying what matters most to you. You have to formulate messaging that aligns your passion, perspective and the difference that you want to make.
  3. Figure out what you are passionate about. What makes your heart sing? What can you go on forever talking about? Who you want to help and how do you want to help them?
  4. Recognize the problem or problems that you want to solve. What have you learned or realized in life? What problems and voids exist and what solution to do you have for them?
  5. Think about what sets you apart and makes you different from everyone else. What path did you take in life? What unique ideas do you have that no one else has or talks about?

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

One of my very first mentors was David Meltzer. Although he comes from the sporting world as the CEO of Sports 1 Marketing, I was drawn to his messaging when I stumbled upon him on social media. I related to his stories, his failures, and his authenticity. He stands out among all others as his thoughts stem from his personal life experiences and lessons. Not everyone agrees with him, as no one does with any thought leader. One of the things that has impressed me most about Dave is that he had it all in life and failed miserably before building himself and his life to what it is now. His story is incredibly inspiring and a great example that you can learn from everything in your life and you can make of your life what you want of it. I also find it really generous and inspiring that Dave always is willing to help anyone. He provides his contact information and makes time to answer people’s questions. He is a prime example of leadership and mentorship at its finest. A big take away from Dave’s approach to that you are never too busy to help anybody and asking for help while also being of service to people are some of the best things that you can do for yourself.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

I can understand how some people may trivialize the term “thought leader” because of its overuse but, I truly believe that the world is filled with many great thought leaders who are actually living up to the term. These people are leading by example, making big moves, inspiring a wide range of people, and seriously making an impact in the lives of so many. When a term is used loosely and applied to anyone and everyone with just an idea or a thought, it can dilute its intended meaning but, it is up to everyone to weed out those who are the real though leaders and those who are just talking.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

It’s important to find your own path and not compare yours to those of others. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and accomplishing. That will do nothing but harm your mindset. Figure out that makes you different and own your space. Trust in the process, your journey. Build genuine connections with people and nurture relationships. Always come from a place of passion and authenticity. Have patience and don’t fear failing. Ask for help and find mentors and coaches who you best resonate with and learn from them. Create a routine that benefits you. Whether that includes meditation, journaling, traveling, weekends off, closing the laptop at a certain time, or keeping your body nourished and active. You need to find your own balance to avoid burnout. For me, it’s to travel. Traveling has proven studies that show its ability to improve overall wellbeing while helping to combat burnout. Being in nature, going for a walk at the beach, breathing in salt sea air, and engaging with new and interesting people in new cultures improves my mindset. Find what works for you. Everyone’s work-life balance is specific to them.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A part of my mission is to grow a movement in my Thrive Through Travel Initiative. This movement is about the acknowledgment that travel has a powerful impact to improve the mind, body, soul, and work-life. My goal for this movement is to inspire people to share how travel has impacted their lives and why they turn to travel for their own unique reasons as well as encourage companies to take travel off of the back burner and move it to the forefront for thriving in wellness and in the workplace.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The universe will only give you what you can handle.” This quote has never been more relevant to my life than when I started my business. When you try to do too much at once and don’t dedicate your energy to what needs it most, you are putting a limit to what the universe will provide for you. There’s a reason why you aren’t reaching your desired goals. You need to open your heart and put energy to where you want to thrive. Allow the universe to guide you. There is a reason for everything, it is up to you to recognize that and accept it.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Arianna Huffington is my dream lunch date. Her mission with Thrive Global and all of her partnerships have been incredibly inspiring to me. I align with her goals to help combat the burnout and the importance of prioritizing mental health. She is a remarkable icon with a beautiful heart and great story. She is definitely someone who I’d love to meet and potentially partner with.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaharaRoseTravels/

Instagram: @SaharaRoseTravels

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sahara-rose-de-vore-4b8bb394/

Twitter: @TravelCoachNet

Website: https://thetravelcoachnetwork.com/

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry, With Sahara Rose De Vore was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.