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Success Advice

You Should Never Be the Smartest Person in the Room



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This might be a hard pill for some people to swallow, but you should never be the smartest person in the room. I know a lot of you will scrutinize this statement. Some of you will even get defensive after reading it. But I stand by it, and I’m not the only one either.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most difficult career paths to pursue. If it was easy, there would be a lot more entrepreneurs out there. But this isn’t the case. For most people, failure is inescapable. So it’s no surprise that some leaders who make it past their first, fifth, and tenth year of business become egotistical. Entrepreneurial success stories are hard to come by. Except these egos eventually catch up to them and can become problematic. It’s because of their egos that leaders don’t want to hire people that are smarter than them. But some of the most revered entrepreneurs in the world do this.

This is how Michael Dell hires his employees. Same with Mark Zuckerberg. Even Steve Jobs, the face of Apple, knew this. Jobs’ made one of the most profound statements about managing talent when he said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” 

A business might be built on one person’s idea, but it’s sustained by their employees. If billionaires know this to be true, why is this not the standard for hiring at every company across every industry? Great leaders know that success isn’t a one-person show. Growth, sustainability, and profitability are a team effort. Hire people that constantly push boundaries, shatter glass ceilings, and push you outside of your comfort zone.

“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” – Confucius

Employees aren’t cogs in a machine, they’re your best assets

Elon Musk, renowned for his bold leadership, has always said that a business is only as good as its people, and I agree. Your company is a direct reflection of your employees. Hiring the best of the best will catapult you to the forefront of your industry; hire inexperienced employees that come at a cheaper cost to you and your company will plummet into the ground.

This is often a lesson that many leaders have to learn the hard way. Hiring for quantity over quality may seem enticing because you can pay employees less while also having more hands on deck to focus on day-to-day tasks. But in very few circumstances does ‘quantity over quality’ ever result in favorable circumstances. The same is true in business.

Entrepreneurs must often wear many hats, but they aren’t experts in every facet of their business. In order to have a well-rounded, high-functioning team, you must fill in those gaps by hiring the most qualified employees. Think of it as a business investment. 

Don’t hire people that will always tell you you’re right and follow your every lead. You need people that will check you, help you develop your ideas, and will bring different perspectives to the table. If you let your ego run the show, you bridle innovation and vision.

Keep competition outside of the workplace

In business, competition is the heartbeat of your company. It motivates leaders to strive for the impossible and to work more diligently in pursuit of their goals. But achieving these goals is only possible when you have a qualified team standing beside you.

While a healthy sense of competition among employees is natural, there should never be rivalries disguised in egotism between leaders and employees — yes, it happens far more than you’d think. If a leader is fixated on how they appear in comparison to others, it’s going to interfere with how they delegate projects and create a highly dysfunctional culture. 

A leader likely already knows their strengths, but they must also understand their weaknesses. This self-awareness is critical in making sure they check their ego before work every day. If you’re threatened by the talent of your employees, you end up working against them instead of nurturing a unified workforce that’s working together to build a prosperous company. In other words, you’ll end up getting in your own way of success.

“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.” – Malcolm Forbes

Hire them and let them fly

Entrepreneurs often have a very misconstrued perception of leadership. Great leaders don’t hire employees so that they can tell them what to do, they hire people they can learn from. Your job isn’t to teach an employee everything they need to know to do the job well — they should already come to the table with this expertise. Instead, it’s your responsibility to create an environment that’s conducive to their growth and development.

Your employees shouldn’t need a lesson in ‘Business 101.’ Instead, they just need to be equipped with the resources and acumen that will help them refine their experiences and knowledge so that they can function independently of you. 

Your goal should be hiring people and then letting them fly. This doesn’t undermine your expertise and leadership skills in any way. Great employees simply don’t need your constant attention and support. You don’t have the time for that anyway, as you need to free up your schedule so you can focus on the big-picture responsibilities of running a business.

The business world isn’t a place for ego. You’ll work twice as hard to go half as far if you aren’t willing to hire people that are smarter than you.

What are your thoughts about intentionally not being the smartest person in the room? Share them with us below!

Daren Barone is the Chief Executive Officer at Watkins Environmental, Inc., an Environmental Remediation company. Daren has participated, managed, and performed over 5,000 environmental projects throughout the United States.

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20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator



Emile Steenveld Speaker and Coach

Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.

Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.

But, don’t worry if you don’t naturally possess this skill, as effective communication is something that can be developed with practice, planning and preparation.

1.  Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.


2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.


3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.


4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.


5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.


6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.


7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.


8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.


9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.


10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.


11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.


12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.


13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.


14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.


15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.


16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.


17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.


18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.


19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.


20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.


By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.

I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at so you can master your life with more success.

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