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The Curse of Know-it-all-ism

Ad folk know, working in this industry is not for the faint of heart, thin skinned, clock-watcher kind. It is challenging, competitive and unpredictable and for all of these reasons, quite appealing to certain personality types.

The agency workplace is (should be) comprised of the best and brightest talent who are all striving to achieve some form of greatness. Whether it be generating the best, smartest work or leading your department in adapting and responding to the evolving marketing landscape.

With the constant emergence of new departments breeding new disciplines, there is no shortage of so-called ‘experts’ anxious to tell you things you don’t know about some micro-niche topic. Side note; I’ve always struggled with the term ‘expert’ relative to advertising, probably because I’m secretly jealous of people who have the luxury of spending a majority of their day researching, learning and keeping abreast on emerging trends/technologies. Realistically speaking, no one knows how or what new products and services will emerge in the next five years, the technology for these services hasn’t been invented yet…

Returning back to the topic of know-it-alls.

I’m always looking for ways to advance my career, I watch countless webinars, I read topical publications, I peruse through my professional network to see what topics my peers find interesting enough to share. I’ve come to the realization that even after working in this industry for over 15 years, there’s a ton of stuff I know nothing about… I wish I had time to learn everything but there’s simply too much topical knowledge out there for one person to absorb.

So, I’m here to tell you that it is okay to admit (and even announce) that you “have no idea”, it’s actually quite refreshing to say “I don’t know” out loud. I hope people know that I’m humbling myself on purpose because I am human and as being so, learn by experience, mistakes and collaboration with others.

Look at it this way, if you already know everything, you have clearly hit the glass ceiling (e.g. roadblock) in your career and it’s perceived to be that you are operating in a stagnant environment with no learning opportunities available. This is extremely bad, how can you possibly progress/evolve if you’re the biggest fish in the pond or the smartest person in the room?

Alright then. Let’s suck up those egos ad folk and admit that we simply ‘don’t know’, it would be a refreshing infusion of human character in this sometimes mechanical churning of the machine we call advertising.

Now go learn yourself something.

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