July 29 2021 09:39 AM

It’s critical to surround yourself with people who know things that you don’t know.

In marketing and in life in general, I believe it’s critical to surround yourself with people who know things that you don’t know. It’s what I call my “Room Full of Smart People” rule. Let me illustrate.

You’re sitting in a room full of folks who have come together for a meeting on a particular topic. It soon becomes completely obvious that you’re the only one there who knows anything about the subject matter. Oh, boy. So, instead of a conversation, it soon becomes a question-and-answer period, a picking of your brain, a monologue. No fun, right? You might as well have stayed home and written a manifesto on the topic because nothing you don’t already know is going to come about from this meeting.

Now, consider another scenario. You’re in a room full of experts, each one with their own informed professional perspective. The conversation is lively. Perhaps there’s a debate. Someone grabs a Sharpie and attacks a whiteboard with enthusiasm.

Which meeting would you rather attend? The second one, right? The Room Full of Smart People.

Bringing together a group of “Smart People” in your company is a way to make sure you’re bringing the best ideas forward for your operation, your customers and your bottom line. While it’s great to have your own personal vision for the business, everyone has blind spots. It takes a group of people who are able to look at things from multiple perspectives to cover as many angles as possible. Associating with people of different ages, backgrounds and life experiences can help you get a tighter grip on what your customers’ likes and needs might be, especially if your customer target audience is older, younger, or different from you in some way. Diversity in hiring is not just about social equity, it’s good business because it offers you a varied point of view.

Hiring Smart People will help you develop and implement fresh ideas and could actually make it even easier to continue hiring quality employees. As your employees notice that you really listen to suggestions and are open to other opinions, it’ll build a more open culture in your business that’s attractive to potential hires looking for growth.

I’ve got a few Smart People in my back pocket, folks I’ll call upon as the need arises, and not all of them work for me. While it’s good to have those other perspectives on-staff, sometimes it’s helpful to have an outside voice who can speak to a tough situation without necessarily having skin in the game or their paycheck on the line. Mentors who don’t work for you but who understand your industry can offer invaluable insights. Mastermind groups through your Chamber of Commerce or similar organizations can help you get a handle on your local marketplace. Organizations like the Irrigation Association offer insightful resources, and the annual Irrigation Show and Education Week provides the chance to meet other business owners who are facing similar challenges to your own. Consultants who offer an expertise that you don’t possess, such as accountants, attorneys, computer/IT techs and marketing professionals can become secret weapons in your Smart People arsenal.

Running a business is tough enough. Doing it all by yourself can be exhausting. Whenever you have the opportunity, surround yourself with people who know what you don’t know. Cultivate those relationships. Be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking about your business. Believe me, it’s the quickest path to success. Plus, it makes the journey a whole lot more interesting.

Stacie Zinn Roberts is an award-winning writer, marketing expert and founder of What’s Your Avocado? Marketing and Public Relations, Mount Vernon, Washington, which specializes in green industry marketing. She can be reached at stacie@whatsyouravocado.com.