One thing that I’ve found over the years is that it’s impossible to stay on top of my game if I’m not continuously learning. I make a concerted effort to do so. I have an RSS reader that’s loaded up with the feeds of dozens of sites. Many are tech sites so I can stay on top of the latest technical developments for my clients. Others are media sites so I’m aware of changes in the marketing world. Still others are more personal – golf sites, food sites, sites that report on social media changes, sites about the analytics world and the sports business. The reader fills up with over a thousand new articles every day and each one is an opportunity to learn something new.
Despite that volume of information, one thing that helps me more than anything else is when I can find a person who is better informed about a topic than I am. I also seek out people whose minds I respect. Many of us don’t like it when we realize they’re not the smartest person in the room. I welcome it with open arms.
That philosophy needs to carry over to hiring. Obviously, the earlier in a candidate’s career we encounter them the less knowledge of the technical aspects of a business they’re going to have. The won’t have a ton of real world experience either. What they can show you, however, is basic intelligence and the other things that we can’t teach. They should demonstrate a capacity to synthesize information and if they’re really smart, they’ll end up making you smarter too.
So who is smarter than you? Ideally, you know many people who are, since interacting with them will make you smarter. I’m sure you’ve run into people who need to believe that they are the smartest person in the room. I certainly have, but it’s a lot more interesting when you encounter someone who clearly smarter than anyone else but never makes anyone feel that way. Better informed is a stepping stone to smarter, but well-informed with an ability to develop new ideas and express them clearly is what’s smart in my book. Yours?