The Impact Equation

"Ideas can help people change the world, and now anyone can become powerful enough to be a catalyst for what matters to them."

- The Impact Equation, page 7

In the age of social media, anyone with an idea can communicate it to the world, often at little or no cost. For the first time, we all have the ability to be producers of media content, not just consumers, resulting in a significant amount of new content being created every day.  The trick is to figure out how to make a strong impact from your efforts.

In their first book, Trust Agents, authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith taught us how to use the web to communicate and build trust behind your ideas. Now, in their latest book, The Impact Equation, the authors teach us how to amplify our efforts.

So what’s the secret for generating impact in what you do? The authors say it is an equation that looks like this:

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

  • C = Contrast – having ideas similar to existing ideas, yet different enough to stand out
  • R = Reach – connecting higher numbers of people to your idea
  • E = Exposure – knowing how frequently you connect people to your ideas
  • A = Articulation – ensuring that your ideas are easily understood
  • T = Trust – based on multiple factors, such as credibility and reliability
  • E = Echo – connecting to your community in a personal way

Using all of the elements in their formula as part of your impact strategy can become a powerful way to cut through the content noise and connect in significant ways with your community.

Let’s talk about where to begin.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Start Creating

"Just as this is the era of media democracy, it is also the era of idea-creation democracy."
- The Impact Equation, page 59

One thing is for certain – if you aren’t building a platform for communicating your ideas, it is very difficult to have impact.  Developing your channels of communication, whether blogs, vlogs, YouTube videos or other products and tools, and tying them together for your audience is critical to adding impact to your voice.

Having one great idea to start the process is important, but it takes work to continue to build, add to, and refine your message.  And it takes bravery at times to put yourself and your ideas “out there” for everyone to view, and often critique.  This is where Contrast and Articulation come into play.  Are your ideas generating new thought leadership? What’s your angle?  How clearly are you explaining your thoughts?

Building a platform in the social and digital age is easy – sustaining it is more difficult. Being strategic about what you do and how you do it will help you see the results and impact you desire.

“Once you decide to be the actor on an idea of your own creation, then the rocket ship takes off.”

Once you have your ideas carefully crafted and your platform established . . . now what? How do you expand your impact?

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Credibility Is Key

"...if you are not trusted, if you are not credible, you are nothing."
- The Impact Equation, page 197

Reliability is the first step in establishing credibility as you build your platform. If you say you will blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you need to do it, even if initially you are writing for an audience of one.  Establishing editorial calendars and a regular writing schedule can help you deliver your message on a reliable basis.  Doing what you say you will do is an important element of credibility.

Trust is another key element of credibility, and it is tricky to define, difficult to establish, and easy to lose.  You will often see bloggers and writers provide disclaimers on how they are being sponsored to write a review or provide details of their experience with a product.  The authors see quality as the core of trust as well; as more and more people like the work that you do, trusting you and what you say become natural extensions of it.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The Human Connection

"...very few successful ventures exist without understanding the human aspects of impact."
- The Impact Equation, page 190

Some of the most popular blog posts or videos that go viral resonate with us because of their personal, emotional, and human impact.  Being human in the work that you do is part of establishing your unique voice, and separates you from others.  Use Twitter to make introductions, help others, and expand your community.  Your audience will know when you are writing from the heart, and those posts will often generate the most impact for you.  Human nature weaves through the Trust and Echo elements of the Impact Equation in significant ways, and it is important not to overlook how you are connecting with people and ways to increase the personal elements of your work.


There are so many tips and tactics within this book, which makes it extremely useful for building your own impact, even if starting from scratch.  It can be a great resource for those starting to build their platforms, as well as others looking to take their impact to the next level.

One of the best pieces of advice from the book for me was this: “Accept all criticism and praise equally as the thoughts and opinions of others and nothing more.” As you start to build your platform and share your thoughts and ideas, you will always hear from critics.  You need to figure out how to accept praise and criticism gracefully, and try not to let the opinions of others sway you from continuing at full speed. 

Ultimately though, impact begins when you start to create!  Build your platform, find your voice, and make your impact.

In the comments below, let us know…

What are your plans for impacting the world?

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Alyssa Burkus

ABOUT Alyssa Burkus

As a consultant, I work with entrepreneurs and senior leaders through periods of significant change in their organizations, by delivering strategies, new programs, and coaching to build the workplace foundation they need to shift their company to new levels...
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