How to Never Be the Smartest Person in the Room

What a year it’s been, huh?

I am so thankful for everything my freelance career brought into my life in 2014. I learned so many lessons in the past 12 months.

I’d like to share the most important ones with you this week.

But first … above all … I learned that freelance writing success was closer than I ever imagined. And it’s closer to you right now than you probably think.

For every lesson I share with you this week, I ask you to also take the action I suggest. These actions will make 2015 the year that people start recognizing your name, talent and opinions … and begin paying you well for them, too.

Lesson #1: Never be the smartest person in the room. Or, if you are, you’re in the wrong room.

Brian Kurtz from Boardroom, Inc., who presented this year at AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, likes to emphasize this over and over again.

Energy is contagious. So is knowledge. So, too, are contacts.

And the hands-down best way to surround yourself with smart, connected people is to attend an industry event like Bootcamp.

In this environment, you get open access to the very best in this business. Striking up a conversation and building a connection with those who have been successfully writing for years can happen multiple times a day there.

You’ll not only make friends with the “smarter people” in the room, you’ll also learn jargon … become privy to behind-the-scenes secrets … recognize trends … and discover what’s hot and what’s not.

If you’re shy, you can even say to someone, “Hey, my goal at this event is never to be the smartest person at any given table. Mind if I join you guys?”

People in this business can respect that. It’s how most legends got to where they are now.

Look at this way … when I wanted to learn Spanish, I moved to Spain. Once there, it would have been so much easier to just hang out with my fellow American students! After all, when I was with native Spanish-speakers, I had to face being the “dummy” in the room.

Nonetheless, I just kept showing up and hanging out with those who had what I wanted. After six months, I returned to the U.S. nearly bilingual.

It’s the same when you’re at a live event. It’s easy to stick with who feels comfortable.

These can be valuable connections, no doubt. But, if you branch out instead, you’ll end up making huge leaps in your knowledge base – and, ultimately, your career and income.

So … before you move on to the next email in your inbox, I want you to go to your calendar and write down one, two or maybe three live direct-response industry events you’re going to attend next year, where you won’t be the smartest person in the room.

I’ll definitely be at Bootcamp, but maybe you’ll want to attend the Web Intensive in Austin, Texas … there are several events to choose from.

If you can, make a commitment right now and register.

If you can’t do that yet, put it in your calendar anyway. Then, make a plan to be there.

Whether that means putting away $100 each week until you have enough money. Or, if you’re still working full-time, requesting time off well in advance. Do whatever it takes.

I love the saying, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.”

I’d like to add that, when you ask those questions, make sure you have an audience of people who are smarter than you nearby to answer them.

So … tell me! Which events am I going to see you at in 2015? Let me know in the comments.

Coming up … we’re going to look at one trait I’ve discovered all top-notch copywriters have in common – it’s a new twist on the old term “starving artist.”

Until then …

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: January 5, 2015

21 Responses to “How to Never Be the Smartest Person in the Room”

  1. Hi Julie,

    Great article, thank you!

    This year I am already registered for AWAI Web Intensive, AWAI Bootcamp and THREE GKIC Platinum Group team meetings.

    2015 is my breakout year!


    Jeff Klaubert

  2. Hi Julie, Your story is very encouraging! To answer your challenge, yes, I'm going to BootCamp!I'm in a corporate situation and for the 3rd time in my long career, I'm sensing vibrations in the floor (the trap door getting ready to suddenly open). Deep down, I'm trying to determine if the Dream can become a reality. I'm at the end of the second session of the Accelerated program, getting really juiced about it and immediately need to decide about COS and all it appears to promise. Any advice?

    Guest (Ron Piranha)

  3. Wonderful idea Julie, Do you have one for people who can't afford the cost of the Bootcamp? I am sure I could become a much better copywriter and well connected, if I had about 10 -20K to spend on all, no doubt, great programs that AWAI has going?

    Guest (branko)

  4. Although I've been to 3 great I'll live events in the US (Boston and Phoenix) and Mexico (Playa Carmen) where AWAI were present, this year so far I am committed to online events including Nick Usborne's online course, the 6-figure Copywriting course, the Companion to this and also 21 Days to Freelancing Success - so I hope to rub shoulders (online!) With many great minds - tutors and fellow students alike! Here's to a great and fulfilling 2015!


  5. Julie,

    Great article, and I really enjoyed meeting you at bootcamp this year and seeing you on that panel.

    So far I know I will be attending the Web Intensive in Austin and Bootcamp.

    Happy New Year to you,


    Guest (Randy Shingler)

  6. Great idea - live in Spain to learn Spanish. Problem is, Spain is where I live, so all the ads I get for Boot Camp and other networking and training events are like saying, "Look what you could have except, oh yeah, you live in Spain." I bought the copywriting course because the ad copy said I could make money living anywhere. Of course I'll finish the course and continue trying to add copywriting to my quiver, but everything I read saying I have to go to boot camp or whatever is discouraging.


  7. Julie, thanks for the encouragement and ideas. I'm stepping out in faith and heading to the event in Austin as well as Bootcamp. In the meantime I'm working on a website and finding my first client.

    Guest (Paul)

  8. I have signed up to attend boot camp this year. I'm not yet freelancing (fear) but have wanted to go for 2years. I took advantage of the monthly payment option.


  9. I, too, would love to attend industry events. But like many others, I find myself in a Catch-22 scenario. The cost of attendance is prohibitively high for a factory worker with big dreams and no portfolio. :)

    But enough with the Negative Nancy. I'll figure it out, somehow. Gotta get that restaurant letter finished!

    Joe Martin

  10. Julie thank you so much for the great advice I would love to do. My problem is income and health. I have a sometimes debilitating affliction called Ataxia. It is similar to host of other inherited diseases. Mine is that travel has to be with someone and the monetary part is that very limited. I thank you anyway for all the good advice you supply newbies with and I intend to keep reading and taking notes.

    Aunti Vi

  11. Julie, thanks for your advice. I am registered for BootCamp and look forward to meeting new people and learning.


  12. Julie- Thank you for all your excellent writing! Your writing comes across as crisp,dynamic,invigorating, full of life, exciting, bright and challenging! And just imagine I have only read 2 of your five articles. Right now my goals are having my first paying customer by March and to break the 6 figure ceiling 18 months hence. Also I must be at Boot Camp in October! All the best Frank(Shineman Copywriting Service).


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