Why Being the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Essential Goal
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There’s no better quote out there than "knowledge is power." It’s short, simple, and if you take the time to (mindfully) dissect it, you’ll start finding out how true it is.
In business, it pays to be the most knowledgeable person in the room. I’m not saying that you have to have every answer to every question. That will never be the case. However, it’s important to have a keen understanding of what’s going on within your industry and the best practices surounding it.
I get an incredible opportunity to consult, work, and just help out people from various sectors, but before I even consider helping, I have to learn everything about how their business works. I tend to read several books on a subject, study the best industry-related blogs, sign up for all the related newsletters, and make sure I have a clear understanding of what consumers from the market look at.
Though it may seem tough, it’s quite simple. It’s just a matter of having that will to learn and the curiosity to find new ways to come up with solutions for different companies.
Abundance breeds laziness.
We live in the information age, and we have a wealth of knowledge available to us at the click of a button. Unfortunately for us and our darn behavior patterns, the abundance of information breeds laziness.
Don’t believe me? Look at the rise of the virtual assistant. Outsourcing work, at least for startups, has become the norm in many instances. Sure, with all the different websites and software available online, we could easily learn a lot of the things on our own. But instead, we want to focus on things that we like to do and pay others to do redundant tasks. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, just know that learning and doing new things that appear to be difficult really isn’t that bad. It’s all in the routine.
Make it a routine to learn.
To be the smartest person in the room, you have to make it a routine to learn. Make time in your day to read books, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, or even go to small meetups or conferences in town. Whatever it takes to be the best, just do it.
Excellence is nothing more than building your routine and process and using your free time to find ways to get better and up your game. The first thing you should do is not allow any negative thought enter your mind. Sound crazy? It’s because it almost is. Based off my observations, I’ve found that people give up on themselves way too quickly.
Here's a quick example. Whenever I give people personal growth advice and let them know of my routine, they often tell me that they "don’t have time for [working out, reading, learning, etc.]" Where I respond "well, you just have to make the time." More times than not, they’ll just give up and make an excuse and say it’s not their thing.
If you're a millennial looking for growth advice, here's a pretty cool bit of content I shot:
If you want to jump from good to great, just apply that can-do attitude, and instead of making an excuse, make it happen. If you really want to be a business leader, make it a point to be the most knowledgeable person in your office, company or industry. Simply know the most information, and apply the knowledge in ways that can help make your business look great. At the very worst, you’ll be an incredibly smart person with a lot of useful information.
Here are a couple of other things that may happen:
You’ll get better business opportunities.
There’s a lot of opportunity out there. And though it may seem cliché, it’s really about getting yourself out there. Once you make the leap and start getting out there, whether it’s going to conference or small meetup, converse with others and share ideas. People, especially the business leaders that attend meetups, love innovative ideas. You’ll never know who would want to invest in your brilliant idea.
The mistake that I see a lot of people across different workplaces -- especially younger adults -- is that we tend to think that the work that is put in from the normal 9-to-5 will get us from good to great. That's not the case at all.
You’ll be more creative.
As the new-age adage says "innovate or die." The more you know, the more creative ideas you’ll be able to pop out. Simply because you’ll know all of the best practices on how to do things and what has previously failed.
I cannot even put a number on the amount of times that I’ve given an idea to a client or boss, and they’ve just looked at me like I just changed the world. It is quite the confidence booster knowing that you were able to come up with an ingenious idea in a matter of seconds. People will hold you to a high regard, and you'll keep on impressing, creating and out-innovating any competition.
On a cool note, people will talk about you differently to others (in a positive way), and you’ll be able to get yourself out there in more, unique and different ways.
You’ll do well at business events.
Though I touched on this previously, I would like to elaborate. When you meet business leaders at events, conferences, trade shows, or whatever gathering you may attend, realize that your knowledge, your mind and your ideas could potentially help change an industry. The funny part is, you may not even see it in that light. You may just think it’s a simple concept.
The beauty of learning is that new ideas never die. You’re literally getting bits of information and reshaping and projecting them into ways that will help you and your organization. Here’s how to make sure that you’re always learning:
Ways to sharpen the mind.
I recently wrote a post about reinventing yourself as an entrepreneur, where I got into more detail about the ways to boost your mind through exercise and some cool neuroscience.
If you honestly can’t find it in you to start exercising or meditating, you can just try a more cerebral approach to keeping your mind sharp. Though I would strongly consider trying to reach your physical apex as you reach your mental one, everybody is different.
Here are some fresh ways to be the smartest person in the room, without having to break the bank on gym clothes and multi-vitamins.
Keep up-to-date with the latest podcasts.
If you want to excel within your respective industry, it’s vital to be the most knowledgeable person in the room. There are a lot of great business podcasts out there that will help you understand high-level concepts. And the beauty of it -- they are all free.
A couple of the ones that I go with:
School of Greatness -- tapping your potential & going from good to great
Spinweb -- is an excellent marketing podcast, perfect for digital marketers
Freakonomics -- one for understanding high-level economic podcasts
Tim Ferriss Show -- show for hyper-productive types, learn how to hack everything
There are hundreds of more out there dedicated to entrepreneurship and personal growth. It's probably best to try a lot of them out, and find the one that is best for you.
Invest in business marketing audiobooks.
Don’t have the time or patience to sit down and read a book? You can passively absorb all the knowledge by getting a couple of audiobooks off of sites like Audible or iTunes.
This has become my go-to media during my commute. Instead of listening to music, I put on some of the most renowned books about science, philosophy, business, mindfulness, marketing and even topics like real estate and nutrition. Once you get accustomed to it and start picking up new tidbits of knowledge, you’ll be able to have meaningful and intelligent interactions about it. And guess what? People will want to gravitate toward you to learn more.
So, as the great Nas once said: "Read more, learn more, change the globe." I hope this inspires at least one creative person out there to learn more and do better.