I flew into Bangkok on a Wednesday.
It was not somewhere that I thought I would ever go a month prior. At the time, I was working at an online marketing agency in Memphis. I stopped writing to focus on some more monetizable side projects, but the majority of my energy and focus were going into my work.
I was relatively happy with my situation. I didn’t particularly want to be in Memphis, but it gave me the opportunity to spend time with friends and family that I hadn’t spent time with in the last year while I was in Brazil. I was working at an online marketing agency that was letting me learn, experiment, grow my skills, and stash a little cash in the process.
I didn’t have a very concrete plan on how to accelerate my career learning, but I expected that I would be at that agency for a couple of years. There seems to be a general standard in the SEO industry that 2 years of experience was a good jumping off point to go freelance.
Going through my Google Reader one day though, I read through what was then the latest post at TropicalMBA.com. It was a job posting for an online marketing manager position. I knew I had to apply. I did. I got the job. Once I knew that my timeline had moved from 2 years to now, everything happened fast.
I bought a plane ticket to Bangkok. I knew there was a conference going on this past weekend and I desperately wanted to go. I thought it would be an incredible opportunity. I was right.
As soon as I got to Bangkok, I knew that I had found my tribe. They came from all over the world and had diverse backgrounds. They were, and are, united, however, by their common drive towards entrepreneurship.
I had the opportunity to listen to an impressive list of speakers and meet a group that I believe will come to be a major part of how I define myself over the coming years.
Career Learning: Be The Dumbest Guy in the Room
But, it was during a session of business breakdowns that something unique happened. As I typed away, trying to get every comment into my notes, I paused and looked around. I realized that I was the dumbest guy in the room.
I say that in neither a self-depreciating nor a self-aggrandizing way. It’s been a long time since the overall quality of the people in the same room as me was so high, their track records in the past and their potential and drive for the future so large that the sensation of being out of my league was unavoidable. I believe there is no better way to increase your career learning than to be the dumbest person in the room.
Before I left Memphis for Bangkok, a lot of people asked me if I was nervous. I was. As I thought back though that feeling of nervousness excited me. In retrospect, it’s very clear to me that every major turning point for the better in my life has been preceded by a feeling of nervousness. It was those moments when everything was not certain that had offered the greatest potential for future growth.
As I pounded away at my keyboard, I realized that my nervous gut had been justified again. It became clear to me how much I had to learn. It became clear that the people in that room were precisely the people I needed to be around. Speaking with people throughout the weekend constantly filled me with a sense of excitement.
Dan, one of the hosts, best captured why that was. He said that he was amazed at the abundance mentality present in the room. So was I.
I do think we have something to learn from everyone. Yet, there is something unique and special to be surrounded by like-minded and like-motivated people. It inspires and reinforces our own professional growth.
To be around a group like that and also have the sensation of being the dumbest one in the room is exactly where I want to be right now. I was honored and humbled to be able to take in the conference. I have 10 pages of notes that I’ve reviewed already and I’m sure I will again and again in the future. This is how learning happens in your career.
Right now though, it’s time to get to work. While being outclassed is where I want to be right now, it’s not where I want to stay.
One of the best ways I’ve found to stay competitive with people smarter than me, is to make sure that I simply read more.
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Last Updated on July 30, 2019 by Taylor Pearson