I want to be the dumbest person in the room.  Again.

You probably don’t hear that too often (if you hear it at all) during your daily conversations.

Put slightly differently: I want to learn more about business and I want to learn from people who’ve “been there & done that”.  I want to learn from their accomplishments and their mistakes.  But that would mean coming out and admitting I don’t know something…

Not knowing can be a good reminder to get back to basics; if you can overcome a common obstacle…

Too often people associate not knowing something or asking for help with “looking bad” or feeling stupid.  It happens all the time during those conversations when people nod along hoping that nobody asks them to explain what’s being talked about.  Those conversations are amazing opportunities to learn – and if you want to learn you have to admit that you don’t know something.

What does this mean for you?  How can you put yourself into situations to grow, to learn and become better at what you do without looking bad?

I’ve been wondering about this for a while; so I asked a mentor of mine (Tom Tuohy, Founder of Dreams For Kids) for some advice.  Here’s a few things I learned from the conversation:


If you meet someone that seems to “know everything” what is left to talk about?  How exciting are one-sided conversations for you?  It’s easy to get stuck in “Let me tell you about ME” mode and forget about the other person.  Forget about building the know-it-all image and start building a strong reputation.

To get smart, here’s 5 quick ways to improve your conversations:

  1. Before you say “hello” be aware of what you don’t know.
  2. When you’re talking to someone else – give them a chance to share their thoughts, ideas and expertise.  During your conversation they should be the most important person in the room (or on the phone).
  3. If something comes up in the arena of what you don’t know – ask them to explain more.  Be thinking of two important words: “Teach Me”
  4. When they explain more – take notes.  Mental notes or write it down.
  5. Thank them for sharing – then take what you just learned and teach other people that need help.

See how it all comes back to you?

By starting with “I don’t know…..” and being open to learning first; you become more of an expert in any subject matter that you talk about.  Have 5 or 10 of those powerful conversations, listen intently and then the next time someone tells you they don’t know about something YOU can teach THEM.

Being “dumb” for a little while isn’t such a bad thing when you realize that over time it will make you the smartest person in the room.

Who has helped you learn?

What lessons have people taught you in the past?