James Altucher’s post about being an effective loser is pretty inspirational. It also got me thinking about how being stupid, or (more eloquently) not knowing things, is not such a bad thing. A large swath of people obsess endlessly - in PR, in marketing, in business in general about ‘needing’ to read a certain amount of books or magazines or things a day to be ‘good,’ and that you have to become dedicated to reading everything, every day, without fail, and knowing everything and being everything. Being the smartest. Being the quickest. Being the best. Being the most intelligent person in the room. Or just seeming it so you can seem special. In fact, Altucher has another post in which he discusses a former colleague who he thought was an idiot because he asked a lot of questions. Sit and listen in your next PR meeting. Be it a client call, or a new business pitch, and try and count mentally exactly how much of the conversation is focused on real things that you actually do, versus very general ‘angles’ or things. Then, when you hit 5, or 10, chime in and say something that you do in the general day-to-day that you’ll actually think will help the client. Watch if you get in trouble. You might. In fact I’d say you will. A lot of PR’s growth is based on black magic theory - that the client couldn’t possibly understand the mysticism and glory of your grand pursuit, and that you’re simply just that good at what you do that they shouldn’t have to. Because if you went into a meeting and said the truth - “I’ll probably send out a few emails to these people. At the end of the week I’ll send an email to you to say who responded, and if I need anything from you between when I send the emails and when I receive feedback, I’ll email you to ask” - your boss would probably explode into a thousand shards and then condense into an astral cube and fly off like zod in Superman. Funnily enough I’ve actually won quite a few new business meetings doing just that. You see I don’t need to be smart. In fact I’m kind of an idiot in many different ways. I’m not good with shoelaces. I’m a bit messy. I forget things easily. I am clumsy. I don’t read everything because I don’t understand everything. I make stupid jokes and sometimes forget to do my hair properly. I haven’t read many books in the last year. I laugh at some very immature things. Might say I’m an idiot. But I’m honest. And I know what I’m good at. And I’m up front about what I am good at. And up front with what I’m bad at. People still pay me to do things. People still read my idiot words as I scribe them onto the internet. And when I was really stupid and didn’t understand something, I did my best to understand it, and if I wasn’t going to get it, I didn’t desperately try and pretend I did to seem smarter. I do well at pitching, though. I do really well at it. I know how to put together an email that someone will read - sometimes they’ll even write about the contents. That’s it. Be proud of your idiocy. Celebrate it in the same way you might celebrate your intelligence. Know your weaknesses like you know your spouse, integrate them into your personality. Know your idiocies and make them your strengths. Do you still giggle when someone jokes about Tayne ? That’s fine. Know it. Relish it. Be your own dumb self - an idiot, an honest, stupid, up-front idiot - and watch as the world opens up to you. Nobody wants a faux-smart person anymore. Nobody wants to be tricked, especially in PR, by someone who has learned a lot of things. That person who says so many ‘impressive’ things may do well initially, but will eventually fall down. You, in your upfrontness, will eventually soar. Break down what you do and describe it in the most simple terms. Some people will say you’re an idiot, or sound dumb. But others will respect the fact that you don’t beat around the bush and actually say what it is that you do in your day to day. Then look at the world through this lens. Break down everything in the dumbest possible terms. Be an idiot as you look at each and every thing, and really understand it as stupidly as possible. Is it really a new platform leveraging social media technology to understand marketing analytics? Or is it a website that helps you see whether you’re spending your money properly using Twitter and Facebook? Is it a web-based SaaS platform for sales professionals to maximize their incoming and outgoing leads, or is it a website for salespeople to understand what’s going in and out of their inbox? Nobody CARES if you’re smart. People care whether you’re DOING SOMETHING. If a moron-idiot-buffoon came into my house, farted and rolled on the floor gurgling then turned my chair into a million dollars, I would not turn to my wife and say ‘God, what a smell.’ And on that hastily-crafted analogy, I’m done.