I'm not trying to be the smartest person in the world; I just need to be the smartest in the room.
As we talked about options and strategy, role played a bit, we ultimately came to the conclusion that he didn't need the be the best English speaking marketing manager, he only needed to be the best marketing manager.
We agreed, the best strategy was to be authentic, to express who he is and what he's all about; but without the pretext that you are the best at everything, only your "thing". His "thing" was digital media management, which does not require a lot of interpersonal language interaction.
We won't know if the interview was successful for a while, but the confidence he went out into the world with is more valuable in long term ROI than this specific job offer.
In flection about this conversation I drew many parallels to my own career and practice. Most of us in the world are trying to be the "expert". The person who is called on as the "one" who can get the job done. This appears to be a great way to differentiate yourself in a competitive world, however it lacks perspective from the client's view.
If everyone is the expert, than no one is the expert. And, this is what has been concluded. Every time I meet with an "expert" I find myself questioning the previous "expert". Instead, I want to interact with other talented individuals who also interact with talented individuals and so on. The goal is be the connector with talent, the best at knowing who is the "expert" as well as a possible expert yourself. Follow this through with me.
In competition we are trying to be the one and only best of the best expert. To achieve this you are constantly seeking to knock everyone else out of the ballpark. The problem is everyone is pursuing the same goal, with the same tactics and strategy. Therefore, the market place is over-crowded with experts, who everyone else claims is not an expert. We are left with confusion, fear and no real forward-moving production.
The constant balance is to find the space between being the smartest in the room, but not in the world. This Means when you are in a room you are there for a specific reason. You posses something that others want. If you are the expert, you are the talent or the product. If another expert sits next to you you are now in a competitive devaluation. Two experts in a room lowers the value of each expert.
However, if you have a valued talent and you know 100 other highly valued talented people in your personal network you have increased your personal value not solely based on your own expertise, but your network value. You leverage your talent to get the job, you leverage your network to keep the job.
Being a connector with talent is that middle space of not being the smartest in the world, just in the room.