The Wrong Room

Smartest Person

Never be intimidated by someone’s intelligence; harness their strengths to compliment yours, for the good of the company.

My mother and father pushed the school narrative.  My first-grade report card was all “E’s” [Straight A’s equivalent for a six-year-old] and the teacher told my parents that I loved to learn.

My parents were both high school graduates – my mom, from Long Island City High School, and my dad, from Brooklyn Tech.  Mom worked in the Garment Industry for many years as an office worker/clerk and my father became a draftsman, working for a  local metal fabricator and then for Traulsen & Co., a commercial refrigeration company.  My parents always pushed me to learn, study, achieve and I was a great student in the small pond of my grammar school, but quickly learned that in high school, the competition was fierce.

I could have done much more with my studies but I became disenchanted with certain subjects in high school (Trigonometry for one – effectively killing all chances at continuing in math or science) and involvement with student government and community organizations added to the distractions.  Nonetheless, I did well – graduating 88th out of 880 students (top 10% is the top 10% – however you squeak by).  I wanted to be a school teacher like all my female cousins were so I “stayed local” and went to commuter-college, CUNY – first, Queens College, and then Brooklyn College, where I graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor’s in Physical Education.  I received my Master’s in Teacher Education in 1991 and started my teaching career that fall.

Once I left teaching to open a business with my partner, I thought my days in a classroom setting were over – at least as a student.  But as my father always teased me, I found that I was open to the thought of being a “professional student” – it was where I felt comfortable and I loved to learn.  I still do.

But believe it or not, many people don’t feel that learning is important.  Some people feel threatened by other’s intelligence.  And some people feel just as threatened in the knowledge that intelligence is looked at as a “four-letter word” in our society, in this day & age.  When that thinking becomes pervasive in a corporation or small business, it can mark the beginnings of a downward turn, sometimes in the profitability of said business, sometimes in the optimism of the owners/managers which can end the possibilities of growth.

Working for bosses or managers that are threatened by a worker’s intelligence, work ethic, diligence or care to the work they are assigned can create a toxic environment that in the end, causes animosity, stress, awkward interactions and ultimately, can cause a talented and gifted, hard-working person to leave an organization.  When the employee is “that good”, another organization would be happy to pick them up once you let them go – and that leaves your organization with a gap that may be difficult to fill.

As a business owner, your name is “on the door”, it’s your product, service or idea – it’s all about you.  Everyone gets it.  Your staff gets it, and depending on your attitude, the may get it all too well.

As a business owner, you need to get this…..

Get over yourself.

Period. End.

Get. Over. Yourself.

Everybody needs a team to move the business wheel along.  Staff, vendors, customers, sub-contractor, etc. all bring certain talents to make your business what it is.  Taking a step back to look at all those pieces, the context in which they are in, the skills, and how each of those things affects YOUR bottom line is imperative to a successful business.

Word of advice: work out your own issues; understand people for what they bring to the table, how they can help you succeed, and what YOU can do FOR THEM so that they have a more secure and concerned relationship with you as their boss.  Confucius said, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” In business, a good manager gets things done.  A great manager empowers those to do their best, coordinates everyone on the team, revels in the fact that they can pick the “best” to get the BEST done.  If you, as the person in charge, are so threatened by someone else’s level of education, stick-to-it-iveness, or persistence, some reassessing of self may be in order.

All in all, you should be able to see in others what you don’t possess yourself or those qualities that will allow things to get done so the company can be reflected in a positive way.  Products sell, services are purchased and profits grow – in an environment conducive to continued growth.

Leave a Comment...