Being the Smartest Person in the Room is Stupid

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” –Marissa Meyer

Being an expert in everything might seem ideal, but it’s actually inhibiting.

I’ve recently learned the value behind being the second-smartest person in the room. Now you're probably thinking, “Second-smartest person? You’re selling yourself short. Why not aim for first place here?”

Luke Sullivan explains this best in his thought-provoking novel, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads,

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert at everything. As a copywriter, I don’t really have to know how to prototype an app. But if I want to be a valued member of my team, I basically have to be the second-smartest person in the room on every subject except copywriting…. Where I’d hope of course to be the first-smartest.

The advertising industry covers many different departments. Designers, web developers, copywriters, media buyers, and social media managers may share the same office, but these positions each require their own skill set for a reason.

As a member of the digital marketing team, I provide insight on digital trends and app updates to our graphic designers and photographers. This helps them to better understand my needs for content and the way it will be interacted with online.

It's necessary to be familiar with the day-to-day duties of your coworkers so that you can communicate the needs of your department, but you shouldn’t be able to replace them tomorrow.

The smartest person in the room is the only one incapable of learning.

If you knew you were the smartest person in the room, would you be motivated to produce your best work? Probably not.

Without a challenge, you might be left feeling unfulfilled and complacent.

I've learned that being part of a team of creative experts who specialize in different areas makes for the best kind of collaboration. At TILT, we're encouraged to learn new skills, attend conferences, and work in an environment that allows free-flowing creativity.

When each department is at the top of their A-game, we can create something amazing. After all, the way people interact with brands is constantly changing, and we're changing with it.